Mississippi police take huge step to fight violent crime

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Violent crime is a huge problem in our nation right now. While it’s worse in the larger cities, no one is escaping this particular scourge. It’s pretty bad.

And in a state like Mississippi, it can be even worse. After all, it’s one of the poorest states in the nation and had a higher than average crime rate even before everything went to crap.

But police there are definitely doing something about it.

More than 700 individuals in north Mississippi were arrested during a month-long effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in March to reduce violent crime, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday.

The arrests were made on a variety of charges including homicide, aggravated assault, aggravated domestic assault, child abuse, child sexual assault, drug distribution, unlawful gun crime, DUI, and failure to register as a sex offender.

The DOJ said “Operation MPACT” (Mississippi Partnering Agencies Coming Together), a U.S. Marshals-led initiative, brought together federal, state and local law enforcement partners from four areas of North Mississippi including Panola, Lee, Lowndes and Grenada Counties to target known offenders, deter crime and improve community and safety relations.

In addition to the 700 arrests for felony and misdemeanor offenses, Operation MPACT resulted in the seizure of $134,180 worth of drugs, $50,720 worth of cash, and 38 firearms.

Now, this may not sound like a lot of an entire state, but that’s because it’s not the entire state, but since it’s just four regions of the state, it’s not an awful outcome.

Not all of the 700 arrests were felonies, of course, but they didn’t need to be.

First, these particular people, now know the police know who they are and what they’re up to. They can’t delude themselves into thinking law enforcement is oblivious to their existence.

Second, there’s what I like to call the “Who’s next?” Effect.

You see, when a bunch of people start getting arrested, others engaged in similar activities start to wonder if they’re going to be the next to get a knock on the door. If that doesn’t happen, they have to wonder if the police just don’t know about them or whether law enforcement just hasn’t caught them yet.

It makes them straighten up, at least for a bit. The “Who’s Next” Effect isn’t a long-term thing, of course, but it does provide some breathing room.

At a time when people are desperate to find answers to the growing problem of violent crime, in Mississippi, they may well have found a meaningful solution.

The truth of the matter is that violent crime is complex. There are no long-term, simple solutions to the problem. You have to hit it from multiple angles.

Yet part of that has to be enforcement of the laws on the books. You’ve got to catch them and prosecute them. That’s the stick.

Then you can offer up the carrot. Then you can create job programs or other efforts to shift people from going down the path to a criminal lifestyle knowing that they have a simple choice. They can either walk the straight and narrow or they can go to prison.

And now, Mississippi has 700 examples to show them.