JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s capital city has joined a federal initiative to reduce violence.
The Department of Justice on Monday added Jackson and Nashville, Tennessee, to its Violence Reduction Network, which provides resources and funding to help cut violent crime in partnered cities. Other cities involved in the program are: Camden, New Jersey; Chicago; Detroit; Oakland/Richmond, California; Wilmington, Delaware; Compton, California; Flint, Michigan; Little Rock, Arkansas; Newark, New Jersey; St. Louis; Milwaukee and New Orleans.
The VRN program was established two years ago to leverage resources and provide a hands-on approach by federal agencies to take aim at cities where the violence level exceeds the national average. Under the program, tactical and operational expertise from agencies such as the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys provides training, technical assistance and immediate subject matter expertise tailored to each partnered city’s unique challenges.
The Clarion-Ledger reports (http://on.thec-l.com/2cyFo0Q) the news comes on the heels of Jackson’s 50th homicide on Friday. Jackson had 46 homicides this time last year, and ended 2015 with 58 overall.
Greg Davis, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, said not only will participation help the Jackson area but that other cities in the Southern District will benefit from the experience, network and training that local authorities will gain from the two years the city is part of the program.
Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber and Police Chief Lee Vance are in Little Rock, Arkansas, along with Davis for the summit on the program this week. Yarber said he’s optimistic about the changes that being part of the VRN will bring. He said he and Davis started talking about such a move when he’d been in office barely a month.
“This gives us an opportunity to be officially a part of the network,” he said. “I’m really excited about the ability to work more closely with federal agencies.”
Former St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom will work out of the Jackson Police Department for the next two years as a full-time, on-site liaison to the network, officials said.
“Not only does this give us access to additional resources, it also helps to create an exchange of strategies among the cities,” Vance said in a news release Monday.
Yarber said that over the next two years there is a challenge for those involved locally.
“What’s been ringing in my head since I sat down in my seat this morning is sustainability,” he said. “When our time with the Violence Reduction Network is over and there’s no more access to funding, can the city and the department continue to retain those relationships and see violence reduced in our community? My hope is a functional plan even in a time where funding and budgets are drying up like they are.”
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com