MS Mayor May Have Gone Too Far In Unorthodox Crime Fight


Mayor Frank Melton of Jackson, Ms., has disdained such basic functions as drawing up the city's budget in favor of cruising through the city's worst neighborhoods in a police department “mobile command center,” says the New York Times. He is known for carrying two guns, wearing a police jacket and a badge, searching cars, knocking on doors, and raiding nightclubs while brandishing a large stick. Last week, he was indicted on eight charges, including burglary, malicious mischief, and causing a minor to commit a felony. Prosecutors said he had illegally carried guns and improperly helped demolish a duplex he says was a crack house.

The mayor says he is a man whose mission, lowering the city's crime rate, has been hampered by the slow-moving wheels of government. It is not clear that Melton's unorthdox tactics have worked. This year, crime in Jackson has increased by about 16 percent over the same period in 2005, according to police reports leaked to local newspapers. Tricia Raymond of SafeCity, a watchdog group on whose board Melton once served, said the increase might be a result of underreporting by the previous administration. A former local television executive, Melton was interested in crime before he took office. As the host of a commentary segment called “The Bottom Line,” he took out billboards featuring names and photographs of wanted drug dealers and helped negotiate the surrender of several suspects.


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