Top cops in small Hinds towns see McMillin’s dual role as positive|[11/24/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2007

HINDS COUNTY — For almost a decade, Utica Police Chief Timothy Myles has kept an eye on crime with an almost sixth sense of what’s going on under the staid quiet of this small, southwest Hinds County town of 921 people.

“I know strange when I see it,” said Myles, standing like a sentinel and waving to motorists passing the front of the police department at the corner of White Oak and Main streets.

“I know everybody, and this is my home,” Myles said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Like other top cops in Hinds County communities outside Jackson, Myles’ department has come to depend on other law enforcement agencies for help — chiefly the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

Over the years, Myles said, the cooperation has gone past merely calls connecting with county dispatch.

“You have to work with your small towns,” Myles said, adding that burglaries and thefts remain a challenge. “They help us, and we help them.”

It’s a level of cooperation he predicts will continue even as Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin, elected to his post in 1991, faces a challenge of his own in heading up the Jackson police.

About a week ago, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton appointed McMillin the city’s chief of police. Days earlier, Melton had removed Jackson Police Chief Shirlene Anderson from the post.

“I can’t see it having a bad effect here,” Myles said. “If anything, (the effect) will be on Jackson.”

Other places in Hinds County are much like Utica when it comes to fighting criminal activity. Police in Edwards have also called on others when it comes to corralling bad guys.

Edwards Chief Louis Johnson’s staff of eight part-time officers patrol in cars sometimes donated from other agencies; the force has two vehicles, one of which was donated by Warren County.

Despite McMillin’s added responsibility in Jackson, Johnson predicts the overall effect will be positive.

“I think he’ll do an excellent job,” said Johnson. “We’ll get a lot of cooperation from Hinds County.”

Near the Warren County line, Edwards and has about 1,300 residents.

In October, the lobby of BancorpSouth reopened after being closed for more than three years following a string of robberies. Its reopening and McMillin’s pending oversight of law enforcement countywide are good signs, Edwards Mayor R.L. Perkins said.

On Friday, Attorney General Jim Hood said it is OK for McMillin to hold the elected position of sheriff while heading up the Jackson Police Department, the state’s largest municipal police force. Whether he faces any conflicts of interest will have to be decided by the state Ethics Commission, Hood said.

McMillin faces confirmation by the Jackson City Council. His appointment marks the first time a Mississippi law enforcement officer has served in a city and county role, though it’s common in large cities.

Jackson has a population of 184,000 and a crime rate of nearly twice the national norm.