Meridian, Miss. As an investigation continues into the motive for Sunday's brutal shooting of an elderly man, Meridian police are launching a new crime fighting initiative. Joined by the interim chief and the department's spokesman, Mayor Percy Bland Monday announced the launch of a new Gang Task Force Unit.
According to the mayor, the individuals who were involved in Sunday's parking lot shooting may have some affiliation with gangs.
"We do have a crisis in our community as it relates to young juvenile gang type activity, and we're going to deal with that problem," said Bland.
"We have resources within the department that we're redirecting for this unit," says MPD Interim Chief Buck Roberts. "We have gang experts within the department, and we have officers again within the department that have dealt with gangs and gang issues before. So, we're redirecting our resources from within this department at this time."
Because he says addressing the issue of gangs is now a top priority, Bland is calling the new unit a proactive approach to addressing the problem.
"We're going to be a little stricter on some of the enforcement of some of our ordinances as it relates to curfews at night and during the day, and also we're going to hold parents accountable for their children," says Bland. "The gang activity in our city is a serious problem, and our thoughts and prayers again go out to Mr. Putnam and his family."
Currently, the curfew for people 17 and under in Meridian during the school year is 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. It extends to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. After a third offense parents can face a charge and a fine.