Jackson, Mississippi, police chief visits Mobile for crime-fighting insights

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 9:20 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The top brass from the Jackson Police Department in Mississippi came to the Mobile Police Department on Thursday hoping to learn something about fighting crime.

Joseph Wade has only been Jackson’s top cop for about four months, three as interim chief and the permanent boss for the last four weeks. But he spent 28 years working his way up the ranks and knows first-hand the challenges that the police force there faces.

It’s a list that would be familiar to the Mobile Police Department, with gun violence and recruiting difficulties leading the way.

Wade said he has visited police departments in Mississippi but wanted to reach out to a comparable city out of state.

“We heard about the great things that were happening here in Mobile,” he said. “We could have visited any agency here in Alabama. We chose Mobile. And we’re excited to be here, and we plan on bringing things back to put in our toolbox and move JPD forward.”

Added Deputy Police Chief Tyrone Buckley: “Y’all have a city that’s getting it right. And we saw some positive things in this city.”

Mobile has experienced its share of violent crime in recent years. But the problem is worse in Mississippi’s capital city. Despite a smaller population, Jackson has recorded 93 homicides so far this year. That’s quadruple Mobile’s 23 year-to-date total.

Jackson has to do more with less. It’s got 238 sworn officers, compared with 425 currently on the job in Mobile. Wade said next year’s budget will cut the authorized strength from 304 to 275 in order to give pay raises. Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine said the 425 officers compared to an authorized strength of 488, a staffing shortage that that has improved from when it was as high as 70.

Wade said he has worked to “change the culture” of the Jackson Police Department. He said he recently had recruited back 10 offices who had left the force.

Prine said he planned to take his counterparts to the Gulf Coast Technology Center, a Mobile police intelligence unit that serves law enforcement agencies throughout the region, performing tasks such as phone and computer analysis. It also oversees the city’s gunshot-detection system known as ShotSpotter.

Price said he planned to share his philosophy of “intelligence-led policing” to target repeat offenders and people most likely to commit violent crimes.

“Really what it’s about is following the data,” he said. “The community will no longer accept law enforcement going out and blanketing the community with old police tactics.”

And Prine said he was hoping to take something away from the exchange, as well.

“When it comes to combatting crime, there is no one silver bullet that resolves it,” he said. “Crime has to be addressed with multifaceted ways. … The great thing about collaborating and partnering is there’s always something to learn. And we’re also hoping to learn and glean from Jackson PD those things that they do very well.”