Camera brackets to buildings – grand jurors list needs|[5/6/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 6, 2005

Grand jurors called for projects as large as two new buildings and as small as camera brackets for police cars before ending their session this week.

The jurors’ written report delivered to Warren County Circuit Judge Frank Vollor Thursday afternoon recommended that “a long-term children’s support home” and “a state mental-health facility to accommodate delinquents with impaired faculties who do not belong in the penal system” be established.

In a shorter-term recommendation, it also wrote that “the police should install video cameras in all of their new patrol cars as soon as possible.”

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People to serve on grand juries are picked at random from voting rolls. Twenty were empaneled Monday by Vollor, and, in addition to reviewing criminal cases for possible indictment, jurors are charged with inspections of local government facilities and summarizing findings in a strictly advisory report.

The grand jury met with seven city and county officials, including the judge of Warren County Court and Youth Court, Johnny Price; the county prosecuting attorney, who represents the county in Youth Court matters, Richard Johnson; and Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett.

The idea for a home for children came from a Youth Court initiative, the report said. Interviewed after the panel was released Thursday afternoon, a grand juror said the panel heard Price describe a shortage of available places with foster parents.

The idea for the long-term support home is for it to be like an orphanage, but its residents would be children removed from the custody of their parents instead of true orphans, the juror said.

The recommendation for the mental-health facility addressed a matter under the purview of the state department of mental health, which operates a branch of Warren-Yazoo Mental Health Services at 3444 Wisconsin Ave.

Vollor commended the panel on its recommendations.

The panel’s mention of the lack of video cameras in some patrol cars was part of a recommendation that began, “The police should make all reasonable efforts to obtain corroborating evidence to support their judgments.”

The recommendation was prompted by a case involving a car chase described by a police officer, the juror said. The panel returned an indictment but observed that videotape of the fleeing car could have strengthened the state’s case, the juror added.

Moffett said the problem was with camera-mounting brackets that do not fit some of the newer police cars and said the problem is expected to be solved within the next two months.

Moffett, who took over as chief in 2001, initiated and accomplished the installation of video cameras in all police patrol cars. About 15 cars have been replaced with new ones since then and the bracket problem is with about five or six of them, he said.

The panel requested that the next such group, scheduled to convene in July, follow up on whether the cameras will have been installed by then.

In other recommendations the grand jury called for: