Hosemann: JPD Chief, Hinds DA played big role in state’s public safety plan for Jackson
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said it took nearly two years for lawmakers to craft bills that would be the foundation of a new public safety initiative for the City of Jackson, one Gov. Tate Reeves announced Wednesday involving Capitol Police and the state’s Highway Patrol.
They also had valuable insight from Jackson’s police chief, James Davis, from the beginning.
“We started talking about broadening the Capitol Police to work with the city of Jackson,” Hosemann said. “Chief Davis and I met and, and [Capitol Police Chief] Byington, we started those discussions about how we would go forward. And from that, that led us to the district attorney.”
That conversation then led to an extra $150,000 from the state to help Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens’ office prosecute a backlog of cases.
Despite their roles in creating this legislation, neither Reeves nor Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell mentioned anything about that during Wednesday’s announcement.
When asked why no city leaders, members of JPD or county officials were in attendance, Reeves told reporters he didn’t invite them to the press event.
“Well, I wasn’t invited either,” Hosemann said, chuckling. “This was an announcement by the governor of the steps that had been culminated over a year and a half or more, work by the house in the Senate and the local people from Chief Davis to the judiciary. So we’ve been working on this a long time. I don’t think we necessarily had to go to a press conference to do it.”
Hosemann specifically singled out the Jackson delegation in the Mississippi Senate for its work in supporting House Bill 974, which authorizes the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to acquire the State Capitol Police Department, and Senate Bill 2788, which authorizes the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol to set up radar on highways in municipalities with a population above 15,000.
He also chose not to dwell on the fact that so many who contributed to that legislation weren’t included in the public safety announcement.
“What we need to focus on is not any of that. We need to focus on why our young people are dying in the street. Now, that’s why I got started on it a year or two years ago,” Hosemann said. “I’m not worried about credit or blame at this point. I’m worried about what we’re gonna do in the future.”
Wednesday night, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba issued a statement about the initiative, saying the state should do more to address the root causes of crime and accused lawmakers of failing to provide adequate funding to combat issues like poverty, joblessness and mental health.
Hosemann said legislators pushed for additional mental health funds as recently as last year, allocating nearly $5 million more than had been provided in years past.
“When we look at somebody to blame, it doesn’t need to be this amorphous person over here. We need to look in the mirror. I live here, my children live here, my grandchildren live here,” Hosemann said. “All of my people, all of these representatives live here. We need to decide what’s going on, not some mythical person or somebody that didn’t do this or that. Those days are past us. We’re in a process here. When we’re going to address the problems or Jackson, we need to look in the mirror and all of us get together and do the things that we can.”
Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote, who declined to comment on the mayor’s statement, believes the increase in policing represents a good first step.
“We don’t need to turn Jackson to Mayberry; we just need to make it safer than it is right now,” Foote said. “And we need to do that day after day after day after day. That needs to be our goal for the next 12 months, to make Jackson safer every day.”
When 3 On Your Side asked Reeves his thoughts on Lumumba’s criticism of the public safety initiative, the governor instead chose to praise the visibility of the Capitol Police he saw on the roads Thursday morning.
Jackson communications director Michelle Atoa said Lumumba would be unavailable for an interview due to budget meetings and a packed schedule, instead directing us to ask the mayor these questions Monday during the city’s weekly briefing.
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