The Capitol Police force was expanded during last session with additional pins, extended jurisdiction in the Capitol Improvement District.
During the 2022 Legislative session, Mississippi lawmakers passed bills that would expand the Capitol Police force, extend their jurisdiction, and move the department under the purview of the Department of Public Safety (DPS). These measures were mostly taken as an attempt for the state to assist the City of Jackson and the Jackson Police Department (JPD) in its fight against rising crime rates.
Recently, since the expansion of jurisdiction, there have been claims on social media by Jackson residents that they are being referred to the Capitol Police number when they call 9-1-1. According to the posts, 9-1-1 operators tell them that they are no longer within JPD’s jurisdiction and must contact the Capitol Police.
While it is true that Capitol Police and JPD do have some dual jurisdiction, they do not extend outside of the Capitol Improvement District (CID).
DPS Commissioner Sean Tindell told Y’all Politics on Thursday that he has not personally spoken to anyone who has been redirected in this way by 9-1-1, but he was aware of the social media posts.
While more pins and additional salary dollars were appropriated by the Legislature, Tindell said it would take time to build the Capitol Police force to a point where they could respond to emergency calls in the CID over JPD or the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.
“I don’t think we are at a level just yet where we feel comfortable with all 9-1-1 calls in the Capitol Improvement District coming to us. I will say, and we’ve always said, that the city of Jackson has primary jurisdiction,” said Tindell. “But Capitol police is here to help and do what we can to make it a safer capitol area as well as a safer Jackson.”
In the event calls are forwarded to Capitol Police, Tindell says they will respond as quickly as they can. He said there has been an uptick in calls coming to their dispatch.
There have been 20 new Capitol Police officer hires made recently along with several investigators. The legislation will allow for up to 150 Capitol Police, and funding was made for up to 115. Tindell said he anticipates as they continue to grow those salaries will be funded through appropriations.
Prior to the transition, Capitol Police operated with roughly 70-80 officers.
Tindell added that Capitol Police, DPS and the JPD are all working together to find new ways to fight crime in the city.
“Chief Lucky has started a street crimes unit that is really going out and trying to find criminals. We’ve solved more investigations now, so I think anybody that really digs into it will see there have been some improvements,” said Tindell.
Commissioner Tindell added that moving forward DPS has begun conversations on adding a metro-troop district for Mississippi Highway Patrol. There are currently 9 Troop Districts and on average they oversee roughly 200,000 citizens.
Troop C, which covers the metro-Jackson area, currently has over 600,000 in its boundary.
Tindell said they believe there is a need for a metro district and a greater presence of highway patrol in the area monitoring state highways and interstates. He said he plans to go to the legislature and ask for their support of that project.