Comments needed – combine sheriff’s dept. & VPD?

Would the citizens of Vicksburg respond to a petition whose aim is to combine the two law enforcement entities? Several readers have suggested that in order to answer that question, a trial run be instituted. To that end, a preliminary petition follows. Please let us have your comments and recommendations not only as to format, but as to whether or not the petition is a worthwhile effort. Only if your response is both significant and positive will a serious effort be attempted city-wide.

 

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We, the undersigned residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi, are dissatisfied with the caliber of law enforcement provided to the citizens of the City of Vicksburg. We feel that enforcement of our laws will be enhanced if the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and the Vicksburg Police Department are combined, and Sheriff Martin Pace is placed in charge of the combined force. We request that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, proceed to develop and implement a plan to achieve that end.

 

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35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I say go for it!

  2. Martin was against it. I’ll honor his opinion.

  3. I thought Martin said he woulkd consider it if it was set up correctly.

  4. I will sign.

  5. Well, I am not opposed to change but before we start proposing and petitioning that we combine the 2 departments I think we need to come up with an outline of how to do it and attach it to the petition. I would hate to have my name attached to something that I believe in and have the city officials totally screw it up.

    The problem right now is this. The chief of police is currently the mayor’s wing man. Remember that the chief was a friend of the mayor’s and once the mayor was elected he brought him in from out of town.

    I think the problem is that the Mayor doesn’t want to publicize the amount of crime in Vicksburg. I think that is why the old DA didn’t prosecute as many as he should have. If you don’t prosecute that many then it doesn’t look like we have that much crime here. That is also why the paper doesn’t report the crimes like it should. If it was reported and it appeared that we had a problem with crime then it would be even harder for the Mayor to get new businesses to come here.

    • I totally agree with you on this one. Most people do a lot of things and get away with it all because they know someone. I have filed several of complaints until it is pathetic. You can’t get anything from the Chief of Police, you go through the mayor and than what? Nothing again. Why do we elect these people? They tell us about what all they are going to do once elected and than when they are elected everything they promised is out the window! Certain laws applies to certain people and it all depends on where you live too. I found that out the hard way. This is why we vote to make sure we get scumbags out of the office and elect someone who is true to their words. I say the Sheriff’s dept. does a wayyyyy better job than the VPD. Why would we want to change that? I would rather live somewhere, where I would have to deal with the Sheriff’s dept. any day over the police department!

  6. Martin Pace is opposed to this. He has said so directly and without hesitation.

    Secondly we have a new DA. The problem with crime in this area has been the weakness of the DA’s office, not the VPD. The same criminals have been allowed to run free and account for a majority of crime in our area. We need to give the new DA an opportunity to do his job.

    I cannot support this for those two reasons.

  7. Very good point, boredstiff. I got the impression from one post that Sheriff Pace would agree to the combination if it were done his way. And I also read that Mayor Leyens would agree to it, even though boredstiff indicated Moffett is Leyen’s man. It’s a confusing situation. Maybe we should just pose the question to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors?

  8. During my term as Alderman, I became convinced that consolidating law enforcement under the Sheriff’s office is best for Vicksburg/Warren County. It will be a complicated process, requiring the cooperation of City and County officials and citizens. Needless to say, no plan will satisfy everyone.

    The Sheriff, being the elected official, obviously should be over law enforcement. I don’t blame Martin for having strong reservations about this, because it will be a complex and controversial process. The risk is that whoever leads the charge in this will probably not come out unscathed. It’s tough enough to run for office without inviting criticism, so someone other than Martin should lead the charge.

    Most important,though, is to approach it in a very positive manner. I would not use “dissatisfaction with law enforcement” as the reason. Rather, approach it as one more way to consolidate services and make our City and County a better place to live and work.

  9. Another postive to way to look at this conslidation. Look what Mayor Melton did with Sherrif McMillian on the issue. Also the fact should be stressed that metro areas like Las Vegas and others are doing this. One justiication that can be used is an understaffed city police department.

  10. Martin can always say no. but if presented correctly he may take on the challenge. As far as critisim goes. Martin is a man who is hgihly respected and he is strong of character.He has most certainly earned the respect and I think he taking on this huge job would be a tremendous asset for all of us. He would get it right.

  11. David, Sheriff Pace has said he wouldn’t want the job if it were set up like Jackson/Hinds is doing it. He has said that to do it right, the two departments should be combined into a “metropolitan police force” (his words). Under those conditions I got the impression he would consider heading the new agency. I know you have had him on “Live at the Klondyke” – did he flat out say “no” regardless?

    I also beg to differ with you regarding the problems with law enforcement, i.e., the problem is at least partially with the VPD, more particularly Chief of Police Tommy Moffett. We know that Moffett refuses to enforce certain laws; what we don’t know is how many other laws he’s not enforcing. Example: If he doesn’t give a damn about lawbreakers streaming along beneath my front windows, what else does he not give a damn about? We know there have been continual instances of questionable behavior by members of his force – sex with teenage girls, at least one beating of a prisoner, firearms discharged at vehicles without cause, sexual harassment (Deputy Chief), etc. In addition, the force is undermanned due to Moffett’s failure to hire and train qualified officers – to the point that 911 dispatchers sometimes have to prioritize emergency calls.

    We’ll soon see if the Martin/Moffett standoff will be resolved when the show is run by Smith/Moffett. I know that the two get along well, and I’m hoping for the best. But, frankly, I haven’t seen Moffett demonstrate the leadership ability that he needs in order to maintain an effective, efficient, motivated police force.

    Don Miller, I agree entirely with your comments, especially your recommendation that, if we decide to initiate a campaign, that we approach it and justify it in a positive manner. The savings entailed with a combined agency are really justification enough.

  12. By the way I was at WalMart last night I saw a vacant VPD cop car there. Now there should’ve been two cop cars there in my opioin. Local leaders are going to have realize that we really want change and not to mention the status quo has to go. Also Moffat lack leadership has lead to cops not answering calls from what I heard.
    Also city and county leaders are going to have realize that those of us want serious change. U vote against this consildation,I say vote those in the city and county out of it.
    Now David is making another mistake on his show praising Moffat’s work to the stars. And problems of the VPD have to be addressed. Also the traditon of the mayor’s interference in the police department has to stop. U review the city’s history on this issue. I dobut if mayor Melton interfered. Here’s another posttive angle the conslidation can generate: more cops for the force. Now this proposal should be addressed where we can force both sides to think really hard. City and County.

  13. Malcolm,

    As I recall Sheriff Pace said a flat no. He went on to discuss the metropolitan police force and the issues related to that. He will be on the show Monday morning, the 17th. Please feel free to call him (601-661-7352) with any questions. I am sure the topic will come up. : )

    I respect your opinion of Mr. Moffet and his effectiveness. We remain in disagreement on that one. He strikes me as an excellent and effective manager. I also see the leadership qualities he possesses. While I would not categorize him a ‘charismatic’ leader he leads a professional and well trained force and holds them accountable. Something I am told needed fixing when he took the position.

    Regarding him not enforcing certain laws I am unclear of which you have in mind. When I asked him about noise ordinance enforcement he sited several examples of ticketing and pointed out the low probable reality of catching every violation. I see officers on foot downtown, a direct result of public communication on that topic. The inference that he is not enforcing other laws is conjecture, at best.

    Mr. Miller has made an excellent, well informed and eloquent observation on this topic. He stated: “Most important,though, is to approach it in a very positive manner. I would not use “dissatisfaction with law enforcement” as the reason. Rather, approach it as one more way to consolidate services and make our City and County a better place to live and work.” He also pointed out the inherent problem with it becoming a reality – city and county will have to work together.

  14. Chuck,

    I respect your opinion that I am mistaken in praising Mr. Moffet. I have strong reasons for my support of him. Some posted above. Some others include my personal history of living in many other cities. Having seen corrupt and ineffective police forces at work in those cities has influenced me to support this honest and hardworking force. We are spoiled here in Vicksburg. We want everything perfect, all the time. A worthy goal, just not an attainable one.

    We may not agree on the source of the problem. It is my belief that the changes in the DA’s office will have a dramatic effect upon crime in our area. As I stated earlier it is a small number of individuals who are responsible for the majority of the crime in Vicksburg. Get those individuals off the street and crime will decrease. It will also send a message to the criminal element that the party is over. That change in perception will be to our benefit.

    The allegation has been laid out that the VPD has mishandled case files and been the cause of these individual going free. I am certain mistakes have been made by the VPD, just not to the magnitude we have been led to believe.

    Our businesses have been victimized by crime in this town. The individuals responsible were caught every time by the VPD. We kept in touch with the investigators every step of the way and found them to be professional, dedicated and meticulous. This was not my experience in other towns. I guess with my business background I look for results. Problems occur, it is the response to those problems that count.

    Chuck I respect and support you. I always look forward to reading your posts. I have learned from you. While we may not ever agree on this topic I appreciate the mutual respect for differing opinions you have shown.

  15. Dave I learn from you too. It’s okay to disagree. I like hearing different opinions. To be honest I like to see this petiton become reality.

  16. Sometimes change is good! When improvements can be made for the better then change is neccessary.

  17. Tommy Moffett is a crook who does not concern himself with the law while claiming to enforce it. I have worked for him and rules and laws are his last concern. His bottom line is how much money can I make from this situation. If it takes breaking the law or even his own policies to personally benefit financially from a situation so be it. That is the measure of the man. Why do you think so many of his best officers have given up long careers to find other ways to make money. They didn’t want to be a part of that. Moffett and Leyens are two of a kind and neither is too much worried about right or wrong so long as they get paid.

    That is why Martin doesn’t want any part of this situation. He knows a wormy apple when he sees it.
    Taking over a department full of other departments rejects that has very few officers left with any real experience locally is what he knows is the problem and he is just too smart to suggest it because he knows proclaiming the real problems at VPD puts more pressure on his budget limited department.

    Anybody want to wager whether Tommy Moffett and Larry leyens leave office with more downtown property and money than anybody who has been in their positions ever? Anybody? I didn’t think so.

  18. The best way to really bring this petition forward is publicity. Let’s the the local Jackson Tv stations involoved with this to shine on the iadequaties of the city and county. And what else has crossed my mind on the city/county merger let’s get the recent elected legistitors involved on that issue. Point out the fact that this non growing port of Vicksburg has no intrest in growth but in money. Let’s see how they react to being criticized from the outside.

  19. Malcolm,

    Sheriff Pace was on the show today. When asked about this topic he explained the difference in a metropolitan police force and what is going on in Jackson. In Jackson the Sheriff is running two departments, the Sheriffs’ and the City Police. A Metropolitan Police Force is one where the Sheriff’s department and the city’s police force would be combined into one. State Law allows a Metropolitan Police force.

    He went on to state that he is an elected official who serves at the publics’ whim. If the public makes a Metropolitan Police Force a reality he must do that, because it is the will of the people. He was also very quick to state that he believes the VPD is doing a good job. That they have many people who are good at their job.

    It was my read that he respects the VPD, Chief Moffet and that he sees them as effective. That he will follow the will of the people, but does not see the need to do this.

    On the topic of combining forces into one the following would need to be addressed:

    First would be the funding. City and county will have to come together and determine their prospective share of this cost. It would have to be a long term plan guided by factual use of services.

    Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, is proceeding from a point of goodwill. If a ‘hostile’ takeover of the VPD occurs we will anger and demoralize the VPD. The resulting loss of officers and/or effectiveness would be devastating to crime prevention. Also it would create a whole new set of problems for the Sheriff. To do this we must proceed as Mr. Miller has advised, “to consolidate services” to make this a better community in which to live and work.

    The next consideration is that this combined force would have to be re-branded. All the uniforms, police cars, badges, forms et al would need to be changed and in effect the moment the change takes place. An expensive proposition.

    Another outcome of this combining of services is the elimination of the Civil Service commission over the police force. Do we want to do that? Will it tie the hands of the Sheriff if we keep them in place over the combined force? Food for thought.

    Another consideration is that Mr. Pace will not live forever. The Sheriff’s position will at some point in the future be headed by a different person. Do we want to put that much power into the hands of an unknown.

    I see a benefit to combining forces as it relates to crime prevention. Greater numbers in a combined assault under a single leader. I see a downward slope in approaching it from the point of we are not happy with the VPD. Additionally I anticipate the changes in the DA’s office to have a huge effect upon crime in Warren County.

  20. Malcolm, how about this version?

    We, the undersigned residents of Warren County, Mississippi and the City of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in an effort to improve services and lower cost desire to combine the Sheriff’s Department with the Vicksburg Police Department. We also feel that enforcement of our laws will be enhanced if the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and the Vicksburg Police Department are combined. That the elected Sheriff is placed in charge of the combined force. We request that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, proceed to develop and implement a plan to achieve that end.

    I am unsure of the petition requirements in Warren County, but I know that in the city you will need at least 1500 certifiable signatures. I would recommend getting 3000. Also I would suggest getting as many from the county as possible. They may not be real excited about having to share their Sheriff.

  21. David, that sounds fine to me. I’ve never tried to implement a petition campaign, so I’m at a loss. It seems, though, that what would be required is a number of copies of the blank petition placed at strategic locations in the city and county. A number of volunteers will be needed to distribute and retrieve. I don’t know if there are enough motivated readers of VS to accomplish that, so help from outside the website will be required. How do we get that? We’ll also need publicity. I think the Post would cooperate. So… if we all agree that the petition is a worthy cause, the who, what, when, where should be defined. Form a steering comittee? Of whom? Etc., etc.

  22. Beside getting the local paper,call an editor at the Clairon Ledger. Call up some anchors at WLBT,WJTV,WAPT,the more publicity the better on such a campaign. We could get recently elected officals like Alex Monsour and Briggs Hopson involved. Sinc we have some deadweights who don’t believ in real change; for once let’s force it down thier throats like they’ve thrusted thier failed ideas down our throats.

  23. I wonder if Judge Vollor is continueing with his “drug court”? When a crime is committed by someone on drugs they put them on probation and they agree to random drug tests. If they fail the tests or commit another crime they may lose their probation or they might get another chance. Watch the court reports and you will see how it plays out. This may contribute to the problem of repeat offenders. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s great if it works and they never do another crime.

  24. The Drug Court is a state wide initiative. It has helped thousands already and will continue.

  25. I was reading in the Post today and still there isn’t a new leader approved for the 9/11 dispatcher. Now no one hasn’t been approved yet. Now is this casuality of the bickering of the county and city? makes one wonder doesn’t it.

  26. Nothing to wonder about been going on for years. and will continue ..

  27. Have they ever wonder how come they never grown in population? Both the city and county. I believe the constant chidish bickering has something to do with it and the fact they don’t want to change thier ways. Well this change is a nessacity. U know the county has dropped in population? Also this port has dropped some in the micropolitian index. So I believe lack of leadership on both sides of fence can be blamed for it.

  28. David, have you ever had to turn over a bad check or a fraud case to the VPD? The Corporation I worked for had to stop using the VPD because they lost the paperwork, passed the buck from one person to the other and not one case that I recall got solved or went to court! NOT because of the DA’s office because they never got there! Paperwork got “misplaced”. We quit using them and started using the sheriff’s office and almost every case was taken to the DA and prosecuted and we were reimbursed. What does that tell you? Does that sound like the VPD was doing a good job? I know other businesses who had to do the same thing for the same reason. We got tired of fooling with the VPD and their lack of professionalism.

    I think you will be eating your words when the new DA takes over. I voted for him, but he can’t improve the VPD. Until you work with incompetence, you don’t believe it.

  29. I am so tired of hearing that the new DA will do a better job than the old DA. A DA cannot prosecute a case if there is not enough evidence to prosecute. They can only prosecute if they have enough information to proceed. The information must be collected by the VPD detectives or the Sherrif’s dept. It is not the responsibility of the DA to go out and investigate the crimes and get the evidence. That is the job of the VPD detectives and the Sherrif’s dept.

  30. As for the combining of the Sherrif’s department and the VPD, there should be some investigation into different cities and how they run things. I don’t think we stand a chance at combining the two until we get a new Mayor. I believe that for now things should unfortunately remain the same because if we try to combine the two and have Martin Pace run it then the Mayor will cause all sorts of hell and this will make things worse because it will ultimately be a hostile takeover. We need to have a Mayor that is a true Mayor and not one out for himself.

  31. “On December 27, 2007 at 11:52 am Smitty Said:

    David, have you ever had to turn over a bad check or a fraud case to the VPD? The Corporation I worked for had to stop using the VPD because they lost the paperwork, passed the buck from one person to the other and not one case that I recall got solved or went to court! NOT because of the DA’s office because they never got there! Paperwork got “misplaced”. ”

    Smitty, yes I have submitted bad checks to the VPD, they referred me to the bad checks unit at the DA’s office. It was there that nothing got done for me, thus my opinion. The VPD advised me to wait until the new DA takes office because the current one generally doesn’t waste his time pursuing bad checks under $300.

    I am curious why you would submit your bad checks to the VPD and not get the same response? Did you follow up with the VPD or with the DA? If the DA then you might understand why the fault was put on the VPD.

    “On December 28, 2007 at 1:44 pm boredstiff Said:

    I am so tired of hearing that the new DA will do a better job than the old DA. A DA cannot prosecute a case if there is not enough evidence to prosecute. They can only prosecute if they have enough information to proceed. The information must be collected by the VPD detectives or the Sherrif’s dept. It is not the responsibility of the DA to go out and investigate the crimes and get the evidence. That is the job of the VPD detectives and the Sherrif’s dept.”

    Bored, I am going to guess that the inadequate paperwork problem will be come a thing of the past over the next 6 months. I wonder if anyone will make the correlation?

    “On December 27, 2007 at 11:52 am Smitty Said:

    I think you will be eating your words when the new DA takes over. I voted for him, but he can’t improve the VPD. Until you work with incompetence, you don’t believe it.”

    I understand. My experience is very positive with the VPD. As I have stated my history includes interactions with incompetent police forces. This is not one. What we have here is a populace that either supports the ‘way it used to be’ or ‘the way it ought to be’.

    What we need to do is support the way it is.

    If you have ever been in a position of leadership or supervision then you understand that the employees who know that you support and appreciate them perform better than the employees with whom you find fault. Why do we keep beating this horse? Support what you have now or actually pursue a path to change it. Complaining about it just makes you part of the problem.

    Healthy discussion for change is good, constantly deriding the efforts of the hard working men and women of the VPD only serves to demoralize an already embattled group.

  32. David, I don’t have a problem with the “hard working men and women of the VPD;” I have a problem with the leadership of the VPD. I know you’ve said that you are impressed with Chief Moffett. Well, I am, too, except very negatively rather that positively. I’ll give you two instances to support my opinion: 1) After my run-in with the thug on Walnut Street I called Moffett to request foot patrols downtown. His response (through Deputy Chief O’Bannon) was “There’s no use putting foot patrols downtown, because the crooks will just go to the other end of town,” and 2) Moffett has absolutely refused my many requests to enforce the laws having to do with disturbing the peace. Vehicles with loud stereos or without mufflers make living downtown very unpleasant at times – and Moffett could care less. I could go on about Moffett’s shortcomings, much of which I’ve learned from his very own people – but to do so could prove embarrassing for them. When was the last time you saw Moffett out checking the streets of downtown, or the various neighborhoods? Never, I am quite sure. Why hasn’t the “serial rapist” been captured? Why is that the Feds are the ones making arrests of drug dealers? When has Moffett shown any outstanding ability at anything? Moffett is also much too close to Mayor Leyens – he’s shown deference to the mayor each time Leyens has gotten into trouble. I think Moffett, and his right-hand man, Deputy Chief O’Bannon, need to go. Period.

  33. Just read in today’s Post there have been five resignations from the Vicksburg Police Department. The article is an interesting read becouse in the second part of the article it has been pointed out that manpower estimates have been on the decline. Also when manpower shrinks it forces those on the job to work harder. But with these five resignations over twenty years of knowledge has been now lost. Some resigned to take up other better jobs in the Jackson metro area. Just how many more resignations can the police department take?

  34. I have contacted the VPD about four times tonight regarding noise ordinance from the VFW, and they only sent out patrol officers twice and each time that they left the music did not change. We have been dealing with the VFW for almost a year now. We don’t live far so we have witnessed people being robbed during bingo, shots being fired during parties. I mean where does this end? Why is this place even still open? The VPD is only a block away from this place and when I called in the complaint, it took them forever for someone to come out. I am still up at 11:38 and I have to be at work tomorrow, but unfortunately I have to wait until 2:00 am to go to sleep because this is when they have to close the place. What kind of law supports noise ordinance when VPD allows it to go on for this long? If I were to ride down someone neighborhood playing loud music out of my car around 12:00 am how long do you think it would take for them to locate me and give a citation for disturbing the peace? Well, the same thing should apply towards this place. ENOUGH SAID!!!


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