In attempt to keep the community engaged in crime fighting efforts, Mayor Cheri Barry announced on Thursday the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Crime.
Barry said citizens have called, emailed, and delivered, in person, their ideas and suggestions on how to make Meridian safer. The idea of a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Crime grew out of that response, she said.
The members of the Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Commission on Crime are from areas of ministry, education, business, law, and criminal justice. The Commission is tasked with finding ways that citizens can help reduce the overall crime rate. This will include promoting public safety, community policing, and citizen outreach.
"We had a panel that put a team together and we will continuously add to this group interested participants from throughout the city and county that would like to get involved in the safety of our community," Barry said.
Neighborhood watches are integral to the process, according to Capt. Wade Johnson.
"In those areas where neighborhood watches are most effective, you definitely see lower crimes rates in those areas," Johnson said.
James Sharpe, interim chief of police, said the Direct Action Response Team is an effective means of responding to crime.
"They have been getting out into the neighborhoods, getting one on one with the citizens and addressing their complaints and handling those complaints," Sharpe said.
He is also working to bring back the department's bike patrol, he said.
Blue Ribbon Commission on Crime members are: Bishop W.C Brown, Lisa Howell, Gerald Kidd, Donnie Smith, Rev. Melvin Hendricks, William Arlinghaus, Kasey Bailey, Roscoe Jones, Mary Barrett Russell, Jerry Jordan and John Nelson.
Commissions goals include:
• Decrease violent crime
• Strengthen neighborhood watches
• Outreach to churches and businesses
• Outreach to community groups involved in criminal justice issues
• Continue to improve citizen communication with Meridian Police Department