JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The murder of Jackson delivery man William Morris proved to be a tipping point in the city's fight against crime. That incident prompted the Jackson City Council's planning committee, assistant police chief Lee Vance and several convenience store owners to meet Tuesday morning to discuss ways to secure businesses.
Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes, who has spearheaded the effort, said that despite obstacles the three sides must come together to fight the violence.
"We're not going to make the city safe if we fight each other," Stokes addressed the group in the council's meeting room at City Hall. "The only one benefiting then is going to be the criminals."
As ideas progressed one of Stoke's initial proposals has already been taken off the table. Stokes had an ordinance prepared requiring convenient stores to hire their own professionally trained, armed security guards.
"The idea that Mr. Stokes had that the convenient stores should hire private security guards is not feasible," Surinder Singh said. "We can not afford that."
Stokes quickly acknowledged Singh's, who is the president of the Mississippi Business Owners Association, point.
"They said 15 hours at $10 an hour is $150," Stokes walked through the arithmetic. "They just don't make enough money for security."
However, unfeasible ideas were not exclusive to city officials. Singh proposed a heightened police presence, even suggesting that police officers should periodically check-on stores.
Assistant Police Chief Lee Vance used the forum to breakdown the flaw in that plan.
"With as many convenient stores as we have it would be basically impossible for us or impractical at least," Vance said.
All sides concede to that fact that this problem will not be fixed overnight and that they will need patience on all sides. In the meantime, Stokes is proposing a six-month moratorium on new convenience stores in Jackson.
The ordinance states, "new convenience stores at this time would not be productive and in the best interest of the citizens..." The full city council will meet next Tuesday and will vote on the ordinance then.
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