Curbing violence in Jackson requires deep, structural solutions, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said last Friday. Addressing reporters in the wake of high end-of-year homicide rates, Lumumba highlighted his administration's efforts to curb violence in the city through a variety of mechanisms. But he also emphasized the futility of only trying to out-police crime and called for greater legislative action around guns. Efforts to end violence, he added, must also include efforts to alleviate poverty and equip communities with conflict-resolution skills, both factors that the mayor said contributed to the city's high crime rates.
"The issue that creates more sleepless nights for me than any other issue that I must address is that of public safety of our citizens," Lumumba told reporters at City Hall on Jan. 10.
Lumumba said that his administration has tried to improve public safety by recruiting more police officers. He pointed to the fact that the Jackson Police Department had graduated its 57th class—its first recruiting class in over three years—during his tenure. The department graduated a second cohort last fall and will graduate another class in 2020.
In addition to addressing staff shortages within the police department, Lumumba discussed the recent installation of cameras and blue lights in high crime areas in the city. "Real crime centers," as they are called, are intended to deter crimes and help police investigate crimes that have taken place.
But Lumumba also acknowledged that heightened police presence is not enough to prevent crimes. "The problem has already taken place by the time police get there," he said.
Instead, he emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of violence in Jackson and elsewhere so as to prevent the cycle from unfolding again.
"If you've done nothing to affect the conditions which have led to crime, then even when you arrest someone by 5 o'clock, you