JPD not planning to provide security at state fair – Jackson Clarion Ledger
Jackson Police Department officers wonât help provide security on the state fairgrounds this year during the annual state fair.
The culprit: city budget cuts.
Police Chief Lee Vance said it costs the city about $300,000 in personnel and overtime costs during the annual state fair and other events at the fairgrounds.Â JPD will continue with its normal police patrols during the fair.
However, the Hinds County Sheriff Department is responsible for providing security on the fairgrounds during the fair and that will continue. JPD normally assists with traffic and security outside the fair gates.
Mayor Tony Yarber said his office has informed fair officials JPD wonât help provide security this year.
âThey are aware we wonât be sending Jackson police officers to help with security,â Yarber said. âWe donât have the capacity to do it unless there is some type payment.â
JPD averages more than $1.2 million each year in police overtime, but it has already surpassed that this year, said Trivia Jones, the cityâs director of administration.
Jones said police overtime is running higher this year due to special events and other items.
The Mississippi State Fair is Oct. 7-18.
In prior years, the city has provided up to 70 officers to help with security during the state fair. Bills have been filed unsuccessful in the Legislature to provide money to Jackson for services it provides for state events.
The Clarion-Ledger left messages for the Mississippi Fair Commission Executive Director Rick Reno and officials with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture, which oversees the fairgrounds, but could not be reached for comment.
The city of Jackson asked all departments to cut their budgets back to the 2014 levels. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, has yet to be finalized. One proposal is to freeze most hiring, and most city employees will be furloughed one day a month.
JPD currently has about 419 officers. The number would remain at about that level for the next fiscal year, although the department was budgeted for 450 to 500 officers.
âItâs not where I want us to be,â Vance said of being limited to around 420 officers.
However, Vance said JPD has never had more than 450 officers in recent years.
Vance said one way the department has been able to reduce crime is through visibility and preventing some crime on the front-end, and that requires officers.
The state fair is expected to attract more than 700,000 during the 11-day run.
Contact Jimmie E. Gates at (601) 961-7212 or email@example.com. Follow@jgatesnews on Twitter.