Police, housing authority expand partnership

Thomas Howard / The Meridian Star

Meridian Housing Authority Executive Director Ron Turner speaks Wednesday at a press conference announcing an expanded partnership between MHA and Meridian Police Department. The partnership is expected to create about six new neighborhood watch programs in public housing complexes throughout the city.

The Meridian Police Department and Meridian Housing Authority are expanding their longstanding partnership to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community and reduce crime.

At a press conference Wednesday at the Velma Young Community Center, MPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Lt. Rita Jack said the police department and housing authority would be launching more than half a dozen neighborhood watch programs at MHA locations throughout the city.

“This partnership should render roughly about six new neighborhood watch programs across the community,” Jack said.

Through the program, Jack said, residents would receive information and training about how to develop their “criminal eye,” to identify crime and help law enforcement take meaningful action.

Literature and other materials to help residents launch their neighborhood watch programs would be available for MHA residents to get involved, she said.

“This valuable information maps out and identifies how you can go about protecting your home, your family and your property, and doing so by working with your neighbors as well as local law enforcement,” she said.

MHA Resident Advisory Board President Brenda Griffin said crime in Meridian is not limited to housing authority properties, but the neighborhood watch programs are a good beginning to reducing crime throughout the city.

“The problem isn’t just in housing. It’s in your neighborhood, your neighborhood and your neighborhood,” she said. “I’m so glad we were chosen to begin the effort with the first initiation to begin working in our communities.”

MHA Executive Director Ron Turner echoed Griffin’s statement and thanked MPD for the opportunity to get residents involved in watch.

“I think that our resident president said it best. Crime exists all over the city, not just in our public housing communities, but we really appreciate this opportunity to get our residents actively engaged in neighborhood watch,” he said. “And we really appreciate the MPD for providing these handbooks and these tools so that our residents can feel safe in their communities.”

Turner said MHA and MPD had always worked closely with one another in the 23 years he's been executive director, and he looked forward to expanding that partnership to improve the lives of the 1,297 families currently living in MHA facilities.

Police Chief Deborah Naylor Young said the Meridian Police Department looks forward to partnering with citizens and the community to help reduce crime for all Meridian residents.

“This is a community involvement,” she said. “And we’re looking forward to the community coming together will law enforcement in order to make things safer and to make it better for this city.”

Jack said residents wanting more information about the neighborhood watch can contact her at 601-513-6916.

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