Oxford police chief: Citizens need to support police

Published 7:13 pm Saturday, November 17, 2018

If city officials and the Vicksburg Police Department are going to successfully to combat crime, they will need the help of the community, Mayor George Flaggs Jr., the city’s aldermen and Oxford’s police chief told people attending a meeting of the city’s crime prevention committee.

About 35 people, which included city residents, city employees and police officers, attended the Thursday evening meeting.

The committee also released a report of its study into the city’s efforts to fight crime in the city.

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“You can’t put an officer everywhere all the time; it’s just not possible,” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said. Getting the community involved “in watching one another’s back” has been the purpose of the public crime prevention committee meetings, he said.

“If you see something you feel isn’t right, then say something to somebody about it,” he said, “Because it’s very true; you never know when you may be on the other end of the spectrum.”

Oxford police chief Joey East outlined the composition of his department and the need to properly train and pay officers, but added more is needed to keep a city safe.

“It takes a community supporting each other; we can’t just put it off on law enforcement and expect them to solve everything for us. It takes action (by residents and organizations like neighborhood watch).

“I do believe it starts with us in law enforcement. We’re the backbone; we have to prove to you that we’re worth what we’re doing, so you have to trust us, and we have to earn that respect. When we do that, we ask that the community support us in what we do, and I think it starts with the chief, just like with me, and we set the example and hold our officers accountable.

“And when you see that, that’s when you support and come after us.”

During a question and answer period, Flaggs and Moore were asked about the reluctance of people to report crimes. Moore said people can report something suspicious anonymously or through the Vicksburg Police Facebook page. Flaggs said people can call him and he would get the information to the police.

Moore said if people were not satisfied with the police department’s response to calls, they can call him or the department’s deputy chiefs, Bobby Stewart as Eric Paymon, or the department’s internal affairs division. Flaggs and Moore also said they would also consider having one person in the department responsible for being the department’s spokesperson. Flaggs also said more cameras would be installed in the city.

The committee’s report outlined the police department’s current programs and its community policing efforts, recommending that in the future Moore and the deputy chiefs be present at community events and talk to business and community groups about the department’s programs and get suggestions from citizens on how the department can be more successful.

The report also indicated police have seen a decrease in suspicious activity where video cameras have been installed by the city, and a recent program attended by the city’s information technology employees will help improve the police department’s ability to use updated software.

The committee also recommended a review of city ordinances to comply with changes in state law.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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