Police Task Forces ‘Waste of Time’ for Violence Prevention?

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Lionel Walker was driving with his family in Jackson on New Year's Eve morning when an SUV pulled up next to his vehicle on Medgar Evers Boulevard, and at least one man began firing gunshots at Walker's car. In addition to Walker, his partner Lucenda Snell sat in the passenger seat with Snell's two children and her mother in the backseat.

A trail of bullets followed Walker's vehicle for nearly a mile to a Church's Chicken restaurant further west, until the family ended up back at the intersection of Medgar Evers and Rutledge Avenue, where the shooting had started.

Walker and Snell were not injured. But the suspect shot Snell's 13-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, who were sitting in the back of the car alongside their grandmother Tammy Snell.

The baby boy suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and the young girl was shot in the arm, fracturing her bone. The infant was in critical condition at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as of Dec. 31. At a press conference later that day, JPD Public Information Officer Sam Brown told reporters that the shooting appeared to target the people in the vehicle. Police had not determined a motive for the shootings at press time.

Less than a week earlier, JPD Chief James E. Davis had held another press conference to highlight the results of his department's renewed efforts to curb gun violence in Jackson on the heels of what he called "a very violent week" in the city.

Speaking from JPD headquarters on Dec. 26, Davis announced 82 arrests through a new task force called "Operation Targeting Gun Violence." He described the task force as a collaborative effort between 40 JPD detectives; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. Marshals

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