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“Together we’ll put a stop...

“Together we’ll put a stop to it”: Governor Reeves announces Operation Unified in response to Jackson crime

By: Jeremy Pittari - February 14, 2024

Gov. Tate Reeves addresses members of the media during Tuesday's press conference announcing Operation Unified. Photo by Jeremy Pittari | Magnolia Tribune

  • Using a unified front, the partnering local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have already begun tackling crime in Mississippi’s capital city.

In an effort to deter crime on the streets of the City of Jackson, Governor Tate Reeves announced Operation Unified on Tuesday. It is a coordinated effort between state, local and federal law enforcement agencies to show a strong presence in Mississippi’s capital city.

Reeves, standing with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and local and state law enforcement officials, held the press conference near the site of a relatively recent gun-related crime to announce this new initiative that began in mid-January. That crime was depicted in a video shared to social media sites that went viral. 

“An individual leaned out of his car in broad daylight and recklessly fired a weapon. That happened literally just a few short steps from here on the road that is behind me on the other side of those gas pumps,” Reeves described.

Using a unified front, the partnering agencies have already begun tackling crime in Jackson. After a short pursuit that occurred last Friday, Capitol Police apprehended a person of interest they believe was involved in the viral video, the Governor said. Officers also seized the car they believe was used in the shooting. 

“Additionally, Capitol Police seized two illegally modified handguns and an AR style rifle from the suspect’s vehicle after that pursuit,” Reeves told the press. 

Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said additional information about the arrest is unavailable as it is an ongoing investigation. 

Governor Reeves’ new initiative to deter crime involves an increased law enforcement presence in the city from several local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The aim is to get criminals off Jackson’s streets and protect the 145,000 people who call the Magnolia State’s capital city home.

“Jacksonians deserve to live in peace, and they should not have to fear for their safety while running errands or commuting to work,” said Reeves in a statement released after the press conference. “Together with our local and federal partners, we will put a stop to it. As one unified front that is committed to stopping violent crime, this operation will help us to do exactly that. I’d like to thank our law enforcement partners for helping us tackle the crime plaguing this fantastic city.”

Agencies participating in this initiative include the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Narcotics, Capitol Police and Office of Homeland Security, Jackson Police Department, Hinds County District Attorney, Hinds County Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi Department of Corrections, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“When you look at the people behind me today, I think it’s a clear indication we’re all in this together,” Reeves said at the conference. 

Jackson Police Department’s Chief Joseph Wade said that while the video went viral recently, it was recorded back in October of last year. Investigators were able to scrub the system and find the time the incident occurred. 

“That video traumatized this city. We were able to pin exactly when that incident happened. It happened on October 28, last year, at 5:29 p.m. We have the information, we’re conducting an investigation, working in collaboration with our other state partners and county partners about this particular incident,” Wade elaborated. “To me it doesn’t matter whether it happened last week or October 28. The issue is that it happened in our city, your family, my family… could have been hurt by someone that was being reckless and lawless in our city. This will not be tolerated.”

Wade feels the partnership will be helpful since there has been a decline in people interested in starting a career in law enforcement. He also said more needs to be done than just locking people up.

“Let’s invest in our community. We can police our community, we can lock people up, but we also got to invest in our community, we got to invest in our youth. We got to give them resources, we got to help some of these families out here. Some of these families are in a state of despair, and in a state of destitute,” Wade described. “So that’s the way we address these issues holistically; it’s not going to be just by locking people up and walking away. That’s not the way to solve these issues that have plagued our city, not just for the last couple of years but for the past couple of decades.” 

Operation Unified will not put an increased workload on any one agency, but will lead to an increase in law enforcement presence in areas of the city through the collaboration, Chief Wade said. To do that, those agencies are communicating.  

“Because when we don’t communicate, the citizens suffer here in Jackson,” Wade said.

Chief Wade is not only communicating with fellow law officers; he is also speaking with members of the city’s neighborhoods and has received positive responses. 

Mayor Lumumba also wants to see investment in the youth, who Governor Reeves said at the press conference are the primary perpetrators of crime, not just in Jackson, but nationwide. To Lumumba, if a young person has to be taken off the street, it would be best to utilize a social worker to determine what led them to the street. Other avenues he believes will reduce crime include providing recreational opportunities for young people and using community members as a resource because they are closest to the problem and therefore closest to the solution. 

“I think Jacksonians are well aware of the needs to engage young people. Every block will be organized by somebody. It will either be organized by a positive force or a negative force,” Lumumba said. “And as we have put the call out to some of our faith leaders and faith institutions to be a part of this solution. They have responded in kind and appropriately. So, you will see in the coming days something that we will present before the City Council in hopes of getting it funded.”

Mayor Lumumba declined to elaborate on what will be presented to the City Council, saying it’s too premature to announce just yet. 

The Mayor also commended the city’s residents for being ready and willing to invest in Jackson by agreeing to tax themselves to improve conditions in the city and its infrastructure.  

About the Author(s)
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Jeremy Pittari

Jeremy Pittari is a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast. Born and raised in Slidell, La., he moved to South Mississippi in the early 90s. Jeremy earned an associate in arts from Pearl River Community College and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor's of arts in journalism. A week after Hurricane Katrina, he started an internship as a reporter with the community newspaper in Pearl River County. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position at that news outlet where he covered the recovery process post Katrina in Pearl River and Hancock Counties. For nearly 17 years he wrote about local government, education, law enforcement, crime, business and a variety of other topics. Email Jeremy:
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