At least two Mississippi law enforcement agencies have or are seeking armored vehicles that are at the center of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The Desoto County Sheriff's department has a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle or M-RAP, which is a military-grade armored vehicle purchased from the federal government. Rankin County is currently attempting to purchase one. Both Rankin and Desoto County departments applied for the vehicles through a process called 10-33 which distributes lightly used military equipment. Since 2006, the military has distributed rifles, body armor, grenade launchers, night vision goggles, and helicopters to communities throughout Mississippi through the 10-33 process. Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey tells MPB's Jeffrey Hess it's all about protecting officers, and answering to taxpayers.
The ACLU has been an outspoken critic of police using military-grade equipment. Jennifer Riley-Collins is Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. She tells our Jeffrey Hess the streets of Mississippi are not a war zone.
When 9th graders in one of Mississippi's largest school districts headed back to school this week, they were asked to make a decision that could affect the rest of their educational careers. For the first time this year, the Jackson Public School district is introducing Learning Academies which will put all 24-hundred 9th grade students into small learning groups. Each group will focus on a particular career or college track. Dr. Cedric Gray is superintendent of Jackson Public Schools. He says the new approach will mean some changes, but he thinks his teachers are ready.
The model being followed in the Capital City is one community leaders have observed in Nashville, Tennessee. Carol Burger is with the United Way - one of the leaders of a program called Alignment Jackson. She explains the concept of Learning Academies to MPB's Jeffrey Hess.