Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. wants new unit to stop violent crimes
Published 1:46 pm Friday, May 28, 2021
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. proposed a special homicide and gang unit to eliminate violent crime in Vicksburg, with a commander reporting to him and not the police chief.
Flaggs announced the unit at a recent candidate forum.
“One of the four deputy chief positions will be this position,” Flaggs said. “The only difference is this position will report to the police commissioner (Flaggs).”
He plans to announce the position at the June 7 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. It will not go into effect in July. He said he has not talked with Police Chief Milton Moore about the position.
“This is a commissioner and a board action,” Flaggs said. “The chief is appointed by the city, and this won’t go into effect until July. I don’t think we have to get permission to do what’s best for the city.”
North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said Flaggs has not discussed the position with him, either. Moore declined to comment.
“He announced it in the boardroom that he was planning on forming that team, but I haven’t officially talked with him about it,” Mayfield said. “I think it would be something good, but I don’t have any earthly idea what his plan is on it. He hasn’t spoken personally to me about it. One thing’s for sure, only time will tell.”
South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said he has talked to Flaggs about the plan and he supports it.
“I think that we really need to have somebody that’s specifically on that because we know we have a problem,” he said. “If we’ve got somebody who can come in that position and put all their attention toward that, it will help us in being a little more efficient in the area we’re having a problem with.
“I’m not a police officer, but I know what we’ve got to do to have public safety, and if that addresses it and the mayor wants to move in that direction, then we should,” he said.
Flaggs said the commander of the homicide and gang unit will work with the police department as a police officer and will have access to police department records and reports, “but it’s just that they are responsible for reporting to me on a daily basis,” he said.
He said the commander would also work as a liaison with the FBI violent crimes task force, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, other state and federal agencies, and he will send the unit’s commander to the FBI National Academy.
“We’ve got to put emphasis on homicides and gang prevention in this city,” Flaggs said. “I believe once we do that, I think we’ll resolve a lot of issues as it relates to gunshots and that sort of thing.”
Flaggs would not say if the city has a gang problem, adding, “Every city has a gang problem, I think. We just want to do some prevention measures.”
He said, however, he believes there is a correlation in terms of acts of retribution or retaliation for shootings and homicides in the community “and we need somebody to be specialized to shut it down. I’m convinced most of the shooting is done by the same people. This way, it will be under surveillance more than anything, that’s the good news.”
Flaggs said the gun violence in the city “has risen to a point where we need to meet it head-on and the homicides that we have that have not been solved, I think we need to pay more attention to them and put a more dedicated person on it that’s specialized and has the ability and expedite (investigations).”
Vicksburg police records indicate the city had 11 homicides in 2020. None have been committed so far this year.
The key issue involving the new unit, the mayor said, is the city putting 100-percent emphasis on homicide and crime.
“What’s happening now is, you have an investigator investigate a homicide and then the next night he’s on a burglary, and the next night he’s on a car theft; he’s got to give this (the homicide) his undivided attention and this (the unit) will,” Flaggs said.
“If I‘m going to be responsible for crime as police commissioner, then I’m going to put some teeth in the law and I’m going to take more responsibility if I’m re-elected,” Flaggs said. “I do think I think it is incumbent upon a mayor to provide the leadership to prevent these things, and I think that once we implement this and work this the way we’re talking about, I think we’re going to be able to resolve some of the shooting incidents.”