After a video recording, first reported Saturday by WLBT, emerged of a Ridgeland police officer dropping off a homeless person in Jackson over the weekend, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba kicked against the rationale of such practices by surrounding jurisdictions.
“This is not the first time that this has happened; this is the first time that it was captured on video,” he said at a press conference Monday. “And it is not just one jurisdiction. It is multiple jurisdictions that have been bringing people into Jackson.”
“We have been getting reports of this taking place across the city from all of our surrounding municipalities, bringing people into Jackson and dropping them off.”
As the Jackson Free Press reported in February, state agencies and other municipalities dropping off homeless people in Jackson is a persistent rumor in Jackson with city leaders saying they have seen it happen, while officials elsewhere routinely deny it.
WLBT’s David Kenney reported that Ridgeland police Chief John Neal says the officer’s action violates policy.
“Ridgeland owns this one, this is not what we should’ve done,” he said. “We should’ve gone through proper channels and we’ve got to raise our hand and take ownership of this. Have we taken them to Jackson in the past? We have. Usually, it’s to a shelter. This is a person who probably would not qualify to stay in the shelter so that wasn’t an option for us.”
Lumumba said that the practice is unacceptable and called on the state government to support the capital city to help handle such increasing social problems like homelessness and drug addiction.
“And so this message is not only speaking to surrounding jurisdictions, that we want cooperation and communication so that this does not take place,” he said. “But this is a message to the state that the city of Jackson being the largest municipality by a factor of three, being the capital city, the capital of health care, the economic engine of our state, that this is not an issue that you can turn a blind eye to.”
“The problem is one that we are not adequately addressing these issues,” he added. “And the problem is, instead of having a process of adequately addressing these issues, we’re just trying to kick the can down the road or pass the problem to another city, and that is not correct or sufficient.”
Lumumba said people have also observed illegal dumping of refuse from surrounding municipalities.
“That’s not to suggest that Jackson doesn’t have its own fair share of illegal dumping taking place from our residents,” the mayor said. “But it makes it all the more daunting, and it increases the burden on Jackson. We not only have to resolve issues for ourselves; we have to apparently resolve the issues of all our surrounding jurisdictions as well.”
‘Continue COVID-19 Precautions’
With 8,596 recorded COVID-19 cases in Hinds County and 182 deaths as of Nov. 9, Lumumba warned that the virus’ risk is not over and urged continued adherence to social-distancing and ask guidelines.
“We have to remember that this is a deadly virus, and so it requires our continued vigilance,” he said. “It requires the people still abide by not only the Stay-Safe-Jackson orders, but they abide by the mandate to wear facial coverings.”
“We encourage people to exercise routine hygiene of washing your hands frequently, and making certain that you do all that you can not to spread this deadly virus,” he added. “We are not past this pandemic, yet; the cases are still going up, the rate of infection is still going up, not only in Hinds County but throughout the state and the nation.”
TECH JXN Virtual Conference Begins
Lumumba described a virtual technology, education, creativity and health-care conference, which began in Jackson Monday and ends Thursday as a way to showcase the city.
The conference is organized by the City of Jackson in partnership with Visit Jackson and Jackson Convention Complex.
“To date, prior to this year, it has been hosted at the convention center,” he said. “We’ve had people come across the nation to participate, not only those that are seeking new opportunities but businesses that are in search of people.
“And so it’s an opportunity that we can broadcast our city to those businesses and look at how we not only resource the economy that we have today, but we build on that economy and look at new opportunities for our city and for our residents.”
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.