Police face questions during town hall meeting

Published 5:27 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

The city of Vicksburg hosted a town hall on Thursday evening to address public safety in the city. The Vicksburg Police Department moderated the discussion which included questions submitted earlier by the public.

We will be updating this post throughout the meeting, listing the questions from the public and responses from police officials.

Full coverage of the meeting will be posted later and published in Friday’s edition.

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Question: It is our understanding officers are in training to use drones. Is this continuing? How close are we to having a trained officer on every shift so when someone calls 911, a drone can be at the scene as soon as possible?

Response: We sent five officers to school to get their license to get this department to the next level. It’s not feasible to put a drone on every shift. Drones can only be used for specific reasons, such as search and rescue. Cannot be used in situations like a report of shots fired, because the suspect involved may be long gone


What is the age limit for the juvenile curfew? Does having a juvenile curfew give “probable cause” to an officer if he sees a crowd in a parking lot (which is considered private property) to go on-site n check ids and if anyone falls under the age of curfew, get them home?


Response: For ages 17 and under. After midnight, children are supposed to be home. We have made several curfew violation arrests in the past few weeks.


Question: Are civilians allowed on active crime scenes?

Response: A victim or a witness. Other than that, no civilian should be on the crime scene. Once we get there and establish the perimeter, anyone who is not involved will be moved back as quickly as can.


Question: Mississippi State law provides that you may not possess a firearm if you are consuming alcohol and there is language within the statute about being in a bar with a firearm. Have officers of the Vicksburg Police Department been in “bar establishments” to ascertain whether or not the owners are abiding by the law? Will the Vicksburg Police Department do this?


Response: It is unreasonable, and against constitutional law, for us to go in and shake everyone down to see if they have a gun. It is up to the establishment owners themselves to give us information.


Question: Why have speed bumps not been installed on selected streets in neighborhoods to slow down vehicles?

Response: We are trying to determine now those areas where we can place speed bumps, rather speed humps and where we cannot. We had meetings about that just this past week.


Question: Why is there no emphasis on traffic enforcement in Vicksburg?

Response: Over the past three months officers have written 450 per month on average. We are more focused right now on patrolling neighborhoods and businesses rather than traffic citations.


Question: Why are there no cameras at intersections, not only at those with traffic lights but also those that are four-way stops?

Response: We do have several cameras at a number of cameras at intersections already.


Question: What initiatives are or will be implemented to prevent crime in the downtown area?

We have stepped up patrols downtown and in downtown garages, made several arrests on outstanding warrants, etc. We have cameras up and down the downtown area. And, we pay officers overtime to patrol downtown and some in plain clothes. And, we have talked about putting cameras in the downtown garages to every entrance and exit on each level.


Question: Can we post in the public downtown areas some type of “No Loitering” signs so that individuals who have no apparent purpose of tourism, legal commerce, or residency of property can be removed?

Response: By law, we cannot run off homeless individuals, we cannot arrest them for being downtown. Property owners can place signage if they wish. If there is anyone you feel is loitering or needs to be moved on, please give us a call.


Question: What are we doing to incentivize the hiring and retention of police offers so that our law enforcement operation maintains adequate staffing?

Response: We do have educational incentives and experience incentives. Our department is not the only one facing retention problems. We are doing different things to retain officers as much as possible. Take into consideration our generation now, the officers we are now getting — every department — you have an influx of young officers coming in. Being a police officer truly has to be a calling, something you really want to do. You have to want to serve, protect.