3 On Your Side Investigates: Secret Police? - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Secret Police?

On the Jackson Public Schools campus, our months-long investigation found in some cases, officers and detectives decide what’s considered a crime and what's not. Source: WLBT On the Jackson Public Schools campus, our months-long investigation found in some cases, officers and detectives decide what’s considered a crime and what's not. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

On the Jackson Public Schools campus, our months-long investigation found in some cases, officers and detectives decide what’s considered a crime and what's not.

Multiple sources tell us JPS’ campus enforcement has a history of not cooperating with other law enforcement agencies.

The harsh reality of that comes from a mother pleading for justice because she says someone raped her daughter, and that case still hasn't been solved.

“They’re choosing not to investigate crimes. They’re choosing not to, and I don’t understand why," said the mother.

The victim's mother came to that conclusion after waiting nearly four years for her daughter’s assailant to be caught.

"My daughter still has to be hospitalized because she's having a hard time mentally," the mother said.

The parent asked that her identity and her daughter’s not be revealed because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

The mother said the rape happened the first week of October 2014.

Her daughter had gone to a friend’s house on Northside Drive around midnight and was talking on the phone when someone came up from behind and grabbed her.

“And where he dragged her to was JPS property," the mother said. "Boyd Elementary. So from just that, Jackson Public Schools says this is our case. We have jurisdiction.”

The mother said she never found out about the incident from JPS.

Her daughter’s boyfriend ended up recounting that traumatic experience because the daughter was too distraught.

Since 2014, the mother’s had one meeting with JPS’ chief of campus enforcement, Gerald Jones, and complained to them that they weren’t investigating.

She also asked them to turn the case over to the Jackson Police Department.

“I had two different commanders to say that “I don't mind. we could investigate it” because I was wondering like at first I was thinking because I was not thinking that Jackson Public Schools was preventing it," the mother said. "I didn't think it was possible that Jackson Public Schools could stop Jackson Police Department from investigating the rape of a minor child."

A few weeks after the alleged rape took place, the daughter's boss was arrested by Ridgeland police and charged with secretly recording people in dressing rooms. 

The man, initially charged with 19 misdemeanor counts, ended up taking a plea deal.

3 On Your Side confirmed with the lead detective on that case that one of the people the man illegally recorded was the JPS rape victim, shown in nine videos technicians recovered from the man's phone.

"They found the hidden videos of my daughter, like he had some kind of fixation on her. And he's not somebody that you want to talk to? Then who do you want to talk to? Who are you willing to talk to?" the mother asked.

That man was never charged with the alleged rape. 

WATCH: Hear more from the mother who says her daughter was raped on JPS property

The Ridgeland detective said there's no record of JPS reaching out to Ridgeland to interview the man about the alleged rape case while he was in custody, which backs up the mother's story.

"I don't even think it's negligence. I think it's intentional," the victim's mother said.

JPS Campus Enforcement is something of a rarity in Mississippi because it’s considered a law enforcement agency.

Several Jackson parents we talked to, like Shafeqah Lodree, didn't even know that.

She believes the district deliberately disguises that it has a police department to keep parents from filing complaints.

“Parents aren’t even told that they’re police. We’re not even told that they’re police. If you ask the average parent, they would have no clue that campus enforcement are police officers," Lodree said.

Lodree knows firsthand that detectives there can decide whether to investigate something criminally or administratively.

She says an incident with her special-needs child last year at Chastain Middle School was handled internally.

After being turned away twice from JPD because it wasn't in their jurisdiction, Lodree reached out to the DA for help.

"They told me that my daughter could be killed on campus. No matter what the crime was, the school had the responsibility of making the report and actually turning it over to the district attorney, and if they didn't, it was like nothing happened," Lodree said.

The alleged rape victim's mother agrees with Lodree.

"They make it go away. And then they lie to the parent. They give you that fake sympathy," the parent said.

We wanted to see if there was a paper trail for the alleged Boyd Elementary rape, so we asked for incident reports for the time period -- two months' worth, just to be sure.

JPS produced more than two hundred incident reports in all.

Not one was from Boyd Elementary.

Then we checked with JPS again, asking specifically for reports under the daughter's name to make sure something wasn't accidentally left out.

Their response from Chief Jones: No incident report exists.

“You need to have a problem with that, and even if your children don’t go to Jackson Public Schools, you still need to have problems with it, because people are committing rape and not being prosecuted for it, so you’re in danger and they don’t care," the mother said.

That’s not all the district told us.

Initially, spokesperson Sherwin Johnson sent us a general statement about how campus enforcement promotes safe environments and investigates complaints on campus through generally accepted law enforcement standards.

Johnson declined to comment on the alleged rape case until after we made him aware of the seriousness of the allegations from these parents.

"That case is still open. I’m told that it is a collaboration with the Jackson Police Department on that particular case," Johnson said.

A high-level source within JPD contradicts what Johnson said, telling 3 On Your Side that there is no collaborative investigation.

JPD isn't involved at all, according to the source within the department, and JPS has jurisdiction over the case.

We're also told the city's police department doesn't have any documents pertaining to the case, either.

"[It happens] a lot," the mother said. "For you to be that comfortable with not investigating a child being sexually assaulted, you’re not worried about being caught.”

Unlike universities, specialized law enforcement agencies like JPS aren't required to maintain crime statistics by law.

But JPS' standard operation procedures manual -- obtained exclusively by 3 On Your Side -- indicates part of the deputy chief's job is to do just that.

After requesting those statistics to show parents the true picture of crime on the JPS campus, JPS District Counsel JoAnne Nelson Shepherd said those records don't exist either.

Chief Jones told her that his department doesn't maintain or compile them, despite the fact that their own policies say they're supposed to.

When pressed for a reason, Jones told Shepherd that he doesn't have the staff to do that.

JPS' own website says the campus enforcement division employs 136 people.

Robert Davis, the director of the Office of Standards and Training said 35 officers -- one-fourth of JPS' campus enforcement staff -- are certified law enforcement personnel.

"People are in danger when you have a sexual predator out there, and y'all govern children's safety, so if this one is not important to you, what is?" the mother asked.

Detectives with the district also have access to the National Crime Information Center for felony record searches and gun checks, too.

Perhaps the most surprising power of JPS campus enforcement lies in the agency's arrest powers.

After all, JPS arrested bus driver Christopher Calvin Patton in December on one charge of sexually assaulting a student.

READ MORE: JPS bus driver arrested for sexual assault of elementary student

While JPS did work with JPD on that case, the mother said what she's heard from parents -- and her own experience -- shows that rarely happens.

"The same people that did not investigate my daughter's sexual assault are going to be the same ones that don't investigate your child getting raped," the mother said.

While JPS may not be required by law to maintain these crime stats for the district, the Mississippi Department of Education says JPS is required to report certain incidents through the state's student information system.

Particularly violent crimes like rape are required to be reported to MDE through the system within 72 hours or the district can face accreditation issues.

So what about this case?

MDE told 3 On Your Side this week there were no reports of rape or sexual battery made by JPS in October 2014.

Here is JPS spokesperson Sherwin Johnson's initial statement to 3 On Your Side:

The Office of Campus Enforcement assists in promoting and supporting a safe school environment for Jackson Public School students, staff and visitors.  Occasionally, this requires the investigation of complaints and reported incidents which occur on our campuses.  The investigation of these reported incidents are handled in accordance to Section 37-7-323 of the Mississippi Code and ensures that generally accepted law enforcement standards are maintained. This includes the inclusion of and assistance from other law enforcement agencies in the City of Jackson that exercise jurisdiction on our campuses, where warranted and needed.  

Cases involving juveniles are under the purview of the Youth Court and involve a Youth Court counselor. We do not discuss cases involving juveniles.

All other cases are handled through the County Court system and involve input and assistance from the Hinds County District Attorney’s office.  As a practice, the District does not disclose information surrounding ongoing investigations.

Parents who have questions or concerns for Campus Enforcement should call 601-960-8830.

After we offered details of the alleged rape case to prompt a specific response, Johnson told us this:

On the alleged rape, that case is still open. I’m told that it is a collaboration with the Jackson Police Department on that particular case. I’m told that the case was initially brought to JPD through a third party, not the parent. It was someone that was I guess either a relative or friend of the child who found out about this. We made efforts to reach out to the parent, the mother, rather, and we had some challenges being able to reach the parent to get an interview because we really need the parent and not a neighbor. They prefer to speak with the parent of the child because we can’t discuss certain things with individuals that are not the parent. That went on for quite a while trying to get in contact with her. Since that time, I’m told the student was 17 and shortly after that, the child turned 18, and I’m told they’ve been trying to communicate with the child, past 18, about the facts of the case and those things associated with it.

The mother has refuted this statement, saying her daughter still hasn't been contacted by anybody at JPS.

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