JACKSON, Miss. — The police department in Mississippi’s largest city will no longer release mug shots of people shot to death by law enforcement officers.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba signed an executive order Monday immediately banning the practice that he called “dehumanizing.”
The order says a mug shot of someone previously arrested “is just one snapshot in time” and does not represent a person’s existence.
“The last image of any person should not be on the worst day of their life, or the worst image that we could possibly provide,” said Lumumba, who is an attorney.
Instead, Lumumba said the city can utilize social media and consult with family members of the deceased to decide on a case-by-case basis what photograph to release.
“In a day and age where we have accessibility to images of individuals through social media and everything else, we can go the extra mile and find an image that gives respect to those individuals who are no longer living on this Earth,” Lumumba said.
Lumumba, an African-American Democrat, was elected mayor of majority-black Jackson in 2017, promising to make it “the most radical city on the planet.” He has said that includes promoting economic empowerment of all races. In a city where black leaders have criticized if-if-bleeds-it-leads coverage of crime, Lumumba said he hopes to position Jackson as a “leader” in criminal justice reform and hopes other cities will institute similar policies.
“We’re stepping out and initiating this policy because we want other municipalities in other states to follow suit and see this is how we treat people like human beings, no matter whatever the circumstances were, justified or not, in an officer-involved shooting,” Lumumba said.
The mayor said any time there is an officer-involved shooting, “something has gone wrong.”
“Something has gone wrong not necessarily on the hands of the police, but we have not been successful in deescalating a circumstance,” Lumumba said. “We do not want to go further and portray people in an image or in a light that is as negative as a mug shot.”