- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Jackson Police Department officers won’t help provide security on the state fairgrounds this year during the annual state fair. The reason: city budget cuts.

Police Chief Lee Vance tells The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1JutWZf) it costs the city about $300,000 in personnel and overtime costs during the annual state fair. Police will continue with its normal police patrols during the fair.

However, the Hinds County Sheriff Department is responsible for providing security on the fairgrounds during the fair and that will continue. City police normally assists with traffic and security outside the fair gates.

Mayor Tony Yarber said his office has informed fair officials city officers won’t help provide security this year.

“They are aware we won’t be sending Jackson police officers to help with security,” Yarber said. “We don’t have the capacity to do it unless there is some type payment.”

Jackson police averages more than $1.2 million each year in police overtime, but it has already surpassed that this year, said Trivia Jones, the city’s director of administration.

Jones said police overtime is running higher this year due to special events and other items.

The Mississippi State Fair is Oct. 7-18.

In prior years, the city has provided up to 70 officers to help with security during the state fair. Bills have been filed unsuccessful in the Legislature to provide money to Jackson for services it provides for state events.

The city of Jackson asked all departments to cut their budgets back to the 2014 levels. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, has yet to be finalized. One proposal is to freeze most hiring, and most city employees will be furloughed one day a month.

The Jackson Police Department currently has about 419 officers. The number would remain at about that level for the next fiscal year, although the department was budgeted for 450 to 500 officers.

The state fair is expected to attract more than 700,000 during the 11-day run.

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


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