Meridian Star

Local News

July 25, 2013

Bland talks public safety, public works

MERIDIAN —     Being safe from crime, and having good schools, roads, water, and sewer systems in place are top concerns of many Meridian citizens, according to Mayor Percy Bland, who is in the first month of his first term in office.

    Bland shared his concerns and goals with members of the Meridian Rotary Club on Wednesday, telling his audience — many of whom are business owners — that  as education goes, so goes the city's progress.

    "You're going to do better when those kids do better," Bland said, referring to the many children who get into trouble with the law and drop out of school.

    Bland was asked about his role, well prior to his election, in a Department of Justice investigation into discipline policies in the Meridian Public School District that eventually led to a new discipline policy.

    "My role is I've always been an advocate for children," Bland said. "When I see a lot of kids being handcuffed and arrested from the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, in front of other students, taken away to juvenile justice department — those kinds of things are game-changing for a child ... Some of the things that were going on should not have been going on."

    Bland said if the police have to be called to handcuff and arrest a young student, "You might as well take them from that seventh-grade classroom and take them straight on to the penitentiary, because that's where they'll end up."

    He said the consent decree between DOJ and the school district will provide better discipline options and will provide for better communications.

    Asked about whether he planned to add more officers to the police department and how he would get a handle on crime, Bland said the department must first get several hired just to have the number of officers for which the city has already budgeted. He also wants the next budget to include several more officers.

    In the meantime, Bland said James Lee, the new chief of police, has officers going out in groups of eight to 10 in specific areas, not limited to what he called hot spots, but also areas where businesses have had burglaries.

    "You will see more strategic units in our community," Bland said. "We're still having too many residential break-ins, which we are not happy with."

    Bland said the city will also form more partnerships with county law enforcement.

    The mayor also took a question about perceptions of Meridian, from both without and within the area, and how that affects economic development.

    "We just hope to be change agents for this city. To be change agents for this city, first of all you have to be willing to talk honestly and openly about your problems and peoples' fears," Bland said. "We're in an impoverished town, at the end of the day. We have a lot of students in the public school system, nine out of ten, on free and reduced meals. That matters."

    In order to succeed, Bland said people who live in the city have to believe that Meridian can win.

1
Text Only
Local News
Facebook
Helium debate
Helium
Twitter Updates
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide