- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - As of July 3, Jackson has had 37 homicides, compared with 21 for the same time last year. The majority of those have been male, most of them shot.

“We are trying to put our finger on what elements contribute to the spike,” Jackson Police Chief Lindsey Horton told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1jkky3i).

Jackson is right at the national average of 62 percent of solved homicides. Homicides are also getting harder to solve, Carl Jensen, an associate professor of criminal justice and Director of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies at the University of Mississippi.

In some areas, like Precinct One in south Jackson, the trend has gone the other way, with the homicide rate falling from 2013 to 2014, but it has almost doubled in West Jackson’s Precinct 2.

Much of it, Horton said, is a drug problem. People will disagree over a drug deal, and sometimes they’re not shooting to kill, but too often they are.

“They will actually take a life to send a message. Too much of that is occurring, and unfortunately that’s concentrated in Precinct Two,” Horton said. “We’re moving a lot of resources over there. We’re chasing the trend.”

There is a correlation between poverty and crime, but that is not always the answer in today’s world, Jensen said.

“People who are desperate are going to steal, as well as people with drug habits, gangs fighting over territory will come into conflict with one another.

“But the nature of homicide has changed in the last several years. Criminologists will say because the nature of homicide has changed, you see more gang violence, more witnesses who are intimidated and afraid to come forward, and more stranger homicide, where a lot of it historically has been personal relationships,” he said.

Horton said the police department is budgeted for 525 officers, but is currently down to 427, and the homicide unit has 35 percent fewer investigators than this time last year. Visibility and manpower are key, he said, but even then, police can’t be everywhere all the time.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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