Race Relations and Policing Take Center Stage in Jackson
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Moderator Othor Cain and Panelist
Desare Frazier

The City of Jackson is working to improve relations between law enforcement and communities to prevent the kind of officer killings and unprovoked police involved shootings that are on the rise nationwide. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

A panel representing law enforcement, Black Lives Matter, the judicial system and children's advocates shared their perspectives about race and policing at Murrah High School. Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance says police are being lumped together. He explained all departments operate independently of each other, so techniques and cultures are different.

"When you start saying the police and you attach that to everyone in this country who happens to be in that profession, that's the same thing Donald Trump did when implied all Muslims are terrorist," said Vance. 

Vance says he doesn't condone police brutality and practices community policing.  Panelist John Knight says he was a gang banger growing up. Now middle-aged, he says a deep seated mistrust of police has developed over the years because blacks have been beaten and harassed and complaints weren't addressed.

"When I say to trust. That doesn't mean just riding up with a convoy, getting out shake hands, take pictures. That's not trust. You have to have a bond with the community. You have to have a bond," said Knight.

Audience members asked questions and expressed their appreciation for law enforcement. Others talked about over zealous officers and the perception all black men are criminals. Richette Hudson of Jackson says this won't be resolved overnight.

"It's going to have to be a continuing effort and you know this is the beginning," said Hudson.

About 100 people attended the forum. Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber created a Criminal Justice Reform Task Force that handed out a report highlighting problems and recommendations to address them.