The Meridian Star
By Brian Livingston
Mayor Percy Bland and Meridian Police Department Chief James Lee said more police will be patrolling during the holiday season.
"I am determined to keep my promise to the citizens of Meridian that we will do everything in our power to make the city a safer place for everyone, not only the residents but those people who travel here to shop and eat," Bland said. "Naturally, we want everyone outside of Meridian to come and shop for their Thanksgiving meals and Christmas present list. We will make Meridian as safe as we possibly can."
Lee said he is calling all able bodied officers on deck to meet the need.
"If they have a badge and a gun, they will be working," Lee said. "And that includes me."
Lee said he and Bland have talked extensively about what specifically needs to be done to ensure, as best they can, the safety and wellbeing of everyone who either lives in or who comes to Meridian during the holiday season.
"We have discussed some plans and I have in turn talked to the officers at the police department about the feasibility of the plans," Lee said. "Of course, I don't want to get into any details because we want the criminal element to guess where we will be and what we will be doing."
Lee did say that throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons residents will notice a marked increase in patrols and police presence.
"Everyone will be out," Lee said. "Command staff officers, like myself, will be normal officers patrolling areas. We are giving up our time with our family so that your family is safe."
He said he not only wants to concentrate on the retail areas of the city but the residential areas as well. His reasoning is simple.
"Robberies and burglaries go up at this time of year because criminals know people have more in their homes than at any other time of the year," Lee said. "Thugs know there are presents under the Christmas trees and we are determined not to let some criminal ruin a child's Christmas by stealing his or her presents."
Lee said the times and days in which the city will be flooded with officers will vary in order to keep criminals off balance. He said he doesn't want criminals to know what they are walking into until it is too late.
Lee also said the zone and quadrant system he has had in place for the department in the last several weeks has been working well up to this point. He said the system places patrol units in specific areas, cutting down on reaction time and increasing the visibility of officers.
Lee is also hopeful the 311 criminal information system that is in place and expanding will alert officers to the threat of crimes before, not after, they have occurred.
Other operations that will be prevalent include safety and DUI checkpoints throughout the city, Lee said. Lee said there won't be any rhyme or reason to the checkpoints in that they will pop up anywhere, at anytime, to ensure the motorists are buckling up, their children are safe as passengers, and that impaired drivers won't threaten the lives of innocent people."
The overriding theme throughout the holidays will be a safe Meridian.
"Overall crimes and calls have been steadily going down over the past several weeks," Bland said. "We like seeing that but there is so much more we can do. And we will do the best we can."