New police department organization approved by Board of Mayor and Aldermen

Published 6:01 pm Friday, October 25, 2019

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday acted on two matters involving the Vicksburg Police Department, approving job descriptions for three deputy chief positions and Mayor George Flaggs Jr.’s reorganization of the department.

Flaggs announced the reorganization and the deputy chiefs’ job descriptions at a press conference Wednesday, saying it will improve the department’s operations, improve accountability and make it more accessible to the public.

“The key word the mayor kept stressing is accountability,” Police Chief Milton Moore said. “With the new changes, we’ll be able to hold some people more accountable for their positions, which I think will be a win-win for everybody.”

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A major change in the reorganization plan is the elevation of the patrol division commander to deputy chief of patrol. Flaggs said he will name Capt. Penny Jones, the present patrol commander, to the new chief’s position at the board’s Nov. 4 meeting.

“I believe the public should have total access to the police department and the fire department,” he said. “I believe when there is a direct correlation between the public and the police department, we can get better results.”

Flaggs said one duty of the patrol chief will be to develop community policing, adding, “We have to have this kind of relationship to solve crime. I’m absolutely convinced that one crime, one homicide is too much for this city.”

Flaggs said he wanted the city to be “where grandma can sit on her porch and not worry about gunfire. If they can do it in Mayberry, they can do it in Vicksburg.”

South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said the reorganization will make the department better for residents and the city, pointing out the deputy chief’s cell phone numbers will be posted “so the public will have access to the people in charge of each one of those organizational charts and there will be accountability.”

Looking at the department reorganization, Flaggs said the city pays $5 million a year for police protection; $305,000 of that is for salaries “for a city of 24,000 people.

“We ought to be held accountable. If we pay good, we ought to expect good; we pay great, we ought to expect great. Nobody is above being accountable,” he said. “I believe this (new) organization chart is more functional, it’s more accountable, it provides what the public needs.”

Flaggs said he will no longer take complaints about the city or the administration “because of the lack of doing what we are supposed to be doing. I don’t believe crime is up. I believe Chief Moore is doing a great job.”

But, he said, “If we don’t reduce crime and if we don’t make this more accessible to the public, and we don’t provide public safety, I’m telling you, this is the first step. The next step you don’t want. If this doesn’t work, then I’m going to get the personnel to make it work, if I have to go to China to get a police officer.”

And starting Nov. 1, Flaggs said, “We’re wiping away all the crime statistics. We start a whole new sheet. There’s no murder, there’s no rape, there’s no burglary, there’s no nothing. We’re going to measure every day from Nov. 1 going forward. Don’t tell me what they did last year or the year before.

“We’re going to do this, and we’re going to do this together,” he said.

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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