Meridian, Miss. The Meridian Police Department is hoping a new video will help them showcase what they're doing to reduce crime. The promotional video was created to highlight changes new Chief James Lee is making at the department.
"Meridian, my name is James Edward Lee, and I am your police chief."
That's how the one minute public service announcement starts. Mayor Percy Bland says it's just one part of a broad strategy to curb crime and reach residents.
"We're about change. We're changing the image, and professionalism of this department, and change is tough and change takes time, but that is what we're doing."
One big change that has been made is the implementation of a new patrol pattern which divides the city into four large quadrants.
"Twenty four hours a day there's a police officer in our quadrants," says Chief Lee. "The neighborhood sees more police officers. We're getting a lot of public response to the fact that people are seeing police officers pretty regularly."
"We're having a lot fewer robberies," says Mayor Bland. "We're having a lot fewer calls that deal with serious crimes within our community, and we need to communicate that more."
Started almost three weeks ago, Chief Lee says the quadrant system assigns officers to specific areas for almost three months.
"He can't move from the quad for 90 days," says Lee. "So, once he's assigned to a quad he's in the quad for 90 days, he or she. He gets to the know the people. He gets to know the neighborhood. He gets to understand those people that he serves."
As with other changes that have been made, Mayor Bland is confident that the quadrant system will work.
"We've picked up over $450,000 worth of cash and drugs within the community within less than 4 months. The way that we're doing our processing as it relates to tickets and fines is up substantially in this year alone over the last two or three years. We have already combined traffic fines, close to $300,000 in four months."