Combine the Sheriff’s Dept and the VPD?

If you count the number of stories that make the Vicksburg Post, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department seldom experiences the personnel and criminal investigation problems that seem to plague the VPD. The latter includes suspensions for sexual harassment, suspensions for erroneous firing of weapons, accusations of rape, sex with teenage girls, failure to adequately prepare the investigative material necessary for use by the DA’s office for prosecutions, use of police vehicles for personal use, frequent contentious arguments regarding personnel before the Civil Service Commission, failure to enforce the laws, and charges of favoritism within the ranks of the police officers. In addition the VPD remains understaffed, resulting in undermanned patrols, increased overtime pay, and even “prioritizing” of emergency calls by the 911 staff. The Sheriff’s Department seems to have a good working relationship with the DA’s office, whereas the Chief of Police and the District Attorney are constantly at each other’s throats. There can be little doubt that the ability of the VPD to protect the public is adversely affected by these internal and external distractions.

So why not just combine the two, with the eventual goal of eliminating the VPD? Is it possible?

What’s your opinion?

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34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My comment is off-topic, but I didn’t know where else to post it. My question is – If the old Surplus City Building is on the National Register, how is it being torn down???? I thought its inclusion on the register meant it had historical significance and protection from being torn down. Hoping someone here knows the answer.

  2. I know the request for demolition is presently being reviewed by the Board of Architectural Review, and that takes about 6 months, but I’m not sure if the building is on the National Register. I’ll try to verify.

  3. The newspaper article, I think, stated that it is on the National Register, and I think it said the request for demolition has been granted. Does that make sense??
    Just wondering what happened to the historical significance.

  4. It’s kind of weird if you can’t tear down something that fell down, but you can tear down something that has historical significance.

  5. Quote from today’s Vicksburg Post – looks like it is definitely going to be torn down:
    “The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the W.W. Lassiter Wholesale Grocery Warehouse. Nancy Bell, director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, said the building is one of the last surviving structures of Vicksburg’s warehouse district.

    Built in 1907, it housed the W.W. Lassiter warehouse until 1940. It was also the Vicksburg Flour and Feed Milling Company.

    Carson, an employee in the City of Vicksburg’s community service department, said he bought the property from Thomas in 2006 with the intention of opening a bar there.

    “I didn’t do my homework,” he said. Work to stabilize the building would have been too expensive, he said.

    After a perfunctory 180-day stay, Carson garnered approval from the Board of Architectural Review to demolish the building on Sept. 25″

  6. Well, I guess it helps to have connections.

  7. I could be mistaken, but isn’t Malcolm Carson connected to Mayor Leyens? Seems like I read some to do a while back, picture included, in the Vicksburg Post. I don’t remember what it was. Does anyone else?

  8. In my opinion, the VPD should be eliminated and we should have one law enforcement, the Vicksburg/Warren County Sheriff Department. It would be more efficient, deputies could be paid higher wages, and it would cost the taxpayers less money. They could receive the utmost training, have an expert K9 unit and be more effective as one well established department under Sheriff Martin Pace.

    In working for a large corporation and dealing with fraudulent cases, we dispensed with using the VPD and proceeded solely with the Sheriff’s Dept. for our cases. The VPD lost paperwork, passed the buck from one department to another and to my recollection never brought one case to fruition. On the other hand, the Sheriff’s Dept. would send a detective over the day we called and before long, we would be receiving a check from the District Attorney’s office recovering the money lost.

    Every point you stated in your topic is correct and is an embarrassment to this city. There is no excuse for any police department to have as many infractions as the Vicksburg Police Department. If we can’t have policemen who obey the laws themselves, then we don’t need them. Get rid of the Vicksburg Police Department and let the Sheriff’s Department take over the entire area with qualified personnel.

  9. Malcolm Carsons is a city employee and works closely with Leyens.

  10. It wouldn’t hurt to see consilidation of both law enforcement entities. I question VPD in the area of counterterrorism. Are they ready for a real terrorist attack?
    Also I heard stories from long time collegues on how Leyens has treated the VPD. And mind you there aren’t good stories here. Pardon if I went off topic on that one.
    But combining the two wouldn’t hurt. Or even eluminating Police department.

  11. Chuck enlighten us please on the Mayor and the VPD relationship?? I seriously doubt the VPD is in any way, shape or form prepared for any sort of terriost attack.

  12. Suppose city residents began calling the Sheriff’s Dept. for all their emergency needs? 1) Would they respond? 2) If so, would the Sheriff’s Dept. have to add deputies? and 3) Would the VPD eventually just “go away?”

  13. I got curious about some of these questions and called Sheriff Martin Case. He explained that the Sheriff’s Dept. does respond to some calls in the city, however, he only has 24 people on his staff to cover 600 sq. miles in Warren county. The Vicksburg Police Department has 60 officers to cover 33 sq. miles in the city. There is no way the Sheriff’s Dept. could handle all the calls with the limited amount of deputies he has.

    Sheriff Pace also said VPD is under the Civil Service Commission and it is governed a large part as to who they hire and fire. If you think about it, everytime one of the VPD officers gets reprimanded or fired, there is a big to do about it and there is either a lawsuit or it is brought before the Civil Service Commission for review. It would appear to me, that the officers are given the impression they can do what they please and get away with it.

    The Sherriff can hire and fire who he wants and his deputies know exactly what is required of them. He has a budget to work with from the County Board of Supervisors, but he runs his own department. Maybe if Chief Moffett could do the same, his department could be held on a tighter rein. Perhaps it’s the Civil Service Commission that needs to be done away with. Is there a law that says we have to have a Civil Service Commission? It appears to me that without one, Chief Moffett could do a much better job by requiring the same type of discipline that Sheriff Pace requires of his deputies. That might solve a lot of problems with the Vicksburg Police Department.

  14. Moffett refuses to do a thing about these loud cars/motorcycles that are driving me crazy. I think I’ll give the Sheriff a call to see if he will hand out a few tickets.

  15. Be sure to include the boom boxes with the vulgar rap music at the gas stations and other parking lots.

  16. Include also the people who stop thier car in the middle of the street to chat, holding up traffic… That just really ticks me off. They do not have the courtesy to pull over to the curb!!!! Daily occurance in my part of the woods.
    Do you think Moffet can do the job, civil service or not??
    Things need to change.. This is for certain!!!

  17. I think the main difference is the time on the job. Martin Pace does excellent work and he has been in the position for a long time. Chief Moffet has only been here a short while and has had to rebuild the entire force into a modern unit. He has restaffed almost the entire department with people who are professional. The complaints with the civil service commission are from people who were let go for poor performance. It seems to me Vicksburg would be happy with letting the poor performers go. Let them whine to the Civil Service Commission, it is their right.

    The reality of any city is that every crime or infraction will not be discovered. Also priority should be given to more serious offenses. I think we can have it all. We just need to give the man time to continue to staff with quality people, not quanity.

    The people that are leaving the force now are leaving for a better, higher paying position or are being terminated for poor performance. That is a good sign. It means that the right quality of officer is being attracted to Vicksburg and regardless of staffing numbers Moffet is a strong enough leader to still hold to standards. That is rare.

    Do we really want to go back to the days of the good ole boys on our police force? I don’t. I will take this transitional period, and the loud music, knowing that we are on the right track to having a well trained, well managed and professional police force.

    Also consider the alternative to a man like Chief Moffet. We would be hard pressed to find a Police Chief of his integrity, character and willingness to put up with all the petty complaints one must endure.

    In ten years, when he has been here for the same tenure as Martin Pace, we will have reason to complain about staffing and repeated noise infractions. For now realize we are in a transitional period and have come a very long way in a short amount of time.

  18. David, David, Davi. I admire your optimistic approach to life. Even Chief Moffett. But David 1) Moffett has been on the job for 6-7 years? Isn’t that time enogh to prove himself? 2) The restaffing of the PD? Poor performers complaining to the CSC? Come on, David. The VPD is several people short of full staff, and our safety suffers because of it. Moffett has had enough time to hire a full complement. One thing he has been is rehiring the same officers who have been a thorn in the side of the department for years. Moffett is just another “good-ol’boy” – one of the best. Politics rules! If he were efective, there wouldn’t be any CSC complaint. 3) Moffett is a strong leader, all right, as long as the troops keep their noses brown. 4) Giuliana proved in NY that the way to stop crime is to enforce the laws – the very basic laws, like illegal park and noise, jaywalk, speeding, etc. That’s where you catch the budding criminals and teach them respect for the law. Stop the petty crimes, and you eventuallu stop the big ones.

    Take off those rose-colored glasses, David!

  19. I have to agree with Bert..Moffet has had plenty of time to turn things around.

  20. Here’s something interesting. When it came to domestic crime,Vicksburg got compared to New York City and that got some officals in town upset. Now it was the FBI who compared Vicksburg to New York. And Mayor Leyens was complaining about that. I found it amusing.
    Now one story I heard about Leyens and VPD. He didn’t let any cops go to federally required program in Las Vegas Nevada. Now this happened during his first administration. But Leyens perturbed some of the cops of the street when he went to Las Vegas. At the Leyens didn’t believe it was nesscerrary for them to go.

  21. For some interesting statistics of Vicksburg crime activity compared to the national average go here:

    If it wraps, just go to click on crime statistics and look up Vicksburg. This is data from the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement.

    Combining 2 different governing departments would involve dissolving Vicksburg’s city charter and cease to be. Ain’t gonna happen. It would be a whole lot easier to get a competent police chief. Yes, Chief Moffett has had ample time to get a well greased top notch police department. It shows a terrible lack of leadership. Vicksburg has suffered horribly for it. Unfortunately, the city governing officials are snookered by Moffett’s silver tongue and shift-the- blame diversionary tactics. I don’t believe we’ll get another police chief until we have a new mayor and board.

  22. Todd, that website was an eyeopener. Compared to other cities in Mississippi, we don’t look so well. It is understandable why so many Vicksburgers have moved to Southaven for more reasons than the booming business. Perhaps we could learn something from their police department because their crime rate is way down for the amount of people they have. Whatever they are doing, it is working! Take a look at their numbers.

    You seem to have some knowledge about the city charter and Moffett, do you have any knowledge as to why we have a Civil Service Commission?

  23. Perhaps it wouldn’t involve dissolving the city charter. . .but a city/county agreement with State Legislature approval? Like when the tax assessor/collector’s office was combined?

  24. Todd,

    Great chart, anyway to compare it to 6 years ago, or to Warren County?

  25. Todd, the site you show relates to 2003. I searched for comparable numbers and found this site:

    It shows a sharp decrease in violent crime from 2001, and a slight increase in 2005, but still down from 2001 levels. With the population decrease for the same time period that would indicate an improvement over the time period.

    Violent crimes are down and property crimes are up. The violent crime decrease follows the national trend. Property crimes are out of proportion and would indicate something is wrong in the chain of incarceration here. Chief Moffet says the DA’s office is the problem and the DA says the VPD is the problem. Either way they both agree the drug problem is the root cause. 90% of all crimes are drug related. Perhaps a tough stance of incarceration, instead of the plea-bargain mentality currently present, for drug related crimes would reduce the rate. Most of those property crimes are committed by the same group of repeat offenders. Put them away and our local rate goes way down.

  26. I checked the Natchez stats and the property crime rates are comparable to ours – perhaps related to being casino towns rather than our DA!!!

  27. Does this mean a vote for R Smith, David? One might decide to vote for Mr. Smith if for no other reason than to apply to the DA’s office the same logic applicable to those elected offices with term limits, i.e., we need a change in the DA’s office.

  28. Swap Gil Martin for Ricky Smith!!! Surely, you jest! There is absolutely no comparison in legal expertise, knowledge of the system or ethics! Furthermore, Gil Martin is a man who can not be “influenced”, to put it politely. He has a very high moral standard. Ricky Smith has been a struggling attorney for years. He is not a particularly bright attorney. No, there is no better choice than Gil Martin and his staff. John Bullard, Mr. Martin’s senior assistant DA, has one of the top legal minds in this state. Have you ever talked to him? Bullard’s reputation is impeccable as is Gil Martin’s. DA’s from all over the state call them for advice. No, to change DA would be a terrible mistake. Police chief, yes; DA no. Too bad we can’t vote out the Police chief.

  29. I agree with Todd about Gil Martin. I have worked with him on several things and he was very knowledgeable, professional and ethical. Same for John Bullard. If it ain’t broke. . .

  30. Having worked with both the VPD and Sheriff’s Dept. through the DA’s office, the problem is NOT with the DA!
    Tney get the job done if the paperwork is completed and accurate. If there are errors in the paperwork or it is incomplete, they don’t have a case.

  31. I have been trying to find information on the number of cases that were abandoned because of poor paperwork or poor police procedure. I can’t find them. I also can’t find a definitive source of information on the number of plea bargains vs. number of cases taken to trial or the number of repeat offenders who seem to be responsible for most of the crime in our community.

    Perhaps Mr. Martin, Mr. Smith or Mr. Moffet could offer some insight into this and settle the volleys of accusations with facts.

  32. Just a little FYI………..incase none of you remember Chief Moffet was brought here by Mayor Leyens from the gulf coast when Leyens became Mayor. That says it all right there. The chief is in the Mayor’s pocket. Nothing will get done.

  33. What a move by Frank Melton in Jackson by making the Sheriff the Chief of Police also. BY doing so the combined both forces and each will be deputized for each district. Wouldn’t Martin make a great Chief of Police also.

  34. I got excited when I saw that Moffett was being considered for the Jackson chief job. Darn! But what a hell of a good move by Melton! If anybody can get things under control, McMillan is the one. Like you, Richard, I just hope the city fathers consider the same thing here.

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