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Feds offer to help curb crime in Mississippi capital

September 24, 2020 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s capital city says it plans to work with the U.S. Department of Justice to help fight crime.

Jackson City Council President Aaron Banks says U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst extended an offer to work with local law enforcement to reduce crime. Banks did not specify how Hurst offered to help, but he says city leaders look forward to discussing the collaboration, WLBT-TV reported.

“A lot of people around the country are talking about this being a political measure, because of the presidential election,” Banks said. “They way I see it and the way some of my colleagues see it is we aren’t concerned about the political measure. We don’t want to see another life lost.”

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The city will seek input from citizens before taking any action on the offer.

The council recently agreed to increase the starting pay of Jackson Police Department recruits from $26,900 per year to $30,000 annually to help address one of the city’s most pressing issues — the recruitment and retainment of officers within the understaffed department. The department is short about 25% of its currently budgeted workforce, The Clarion Ledger reported.

Many of the vacancies include sergeants, lieutenants and detectives. Another 41 officers are slated to retire this year, according to Chief James Davis.

The pay increase comes as the city’s homicide rate continues at a record clip and is close to surpassing the highest number of deaths, 92 in 1995, in the city’s history.