Do Students Feel Safe in Jackson? / Evan Espinoza
Many students at Mississippi College do not confine themselves to the boundaries of Clinton. Many students frequently visit the Jackson area for many reasons ranging from church on Sunday morning to a night out to eat with friends. However, safety can often be a concern when visiting Jackson. As of Nov. 8, there have been 127 homicides in Jackson, which puts the city on track to reach a record high by the end of the year. With the homicide rate so high in a city so close and popular to campus, whether or not students feel safe in that area is in question.
When junior Brennan Heard reflected on the homicide rate, his heart went out to the many families in Jackson. “There’s families with newborns that probably have to consider living in areas that aren’t safe… It also definitely makes you rethink staying around Jackson after you leave Mississippi College, or at least stay in the safer areas.”
Heard’s words reflect what many families in Jackson are thinking as many of the recorded homicide victims and suspects are young men and women, as well as children. As students graduate, many do not stray far from campus, seeking job opportunities or even a life of marriage in or near Jackson. The Jackson Police Department and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office provide up-to-date data and maps detailing the year’s homicides for the benefit and safety of the public.
Although our campus is not in the middle of the city, Clinton is only a short drive away from the outer limits of Jackson and some of the more dangerous areas. Officer Travis of the Mississippi College Office of Public Safety provided further insight into how campus safety protocol keeps students on campus secure. “We always have at least two to five security officers present, as well as Clinton police… We also try to build a rapport with students so they are comfortable reporting anything to us that makes them uncomfortable on campus or the surrounding area.” There are also a number of security cameras in place around campus as well as the “blue poles.” These poles exist for all students to use if they are somewhere on campus where they feel unsafe and need to get ahold of the security office. The campus security office can also be reached at (601) 925-3204. Officer Travis also made note that many of the homicides in the Jackson area can be attributed to gang violence, but some other crimes that can flow into the areas around Jackson are drugs and theft.
Junior Nathanael Smith has lived in Jackson for most of his life. He discussed some of the dangers he experienced growing up and how best to approach safety in the area. “One thing is just understanding the layout of Jackson. You can be in the niceness of Fondren then the next thing you know you’re in the middle of sketchy industrial areas.” Smith stressed that while the “safer” areas of Jackson are largely sectioned off, it is important to know your surroundings and to travel with a buddy if possible. He also noted that come nightfall, it’s best to just avoid some of the higher risk areas. “We had a lot of car break-ins even though we lived in a nicer neighborhood, so you should always make sure nothing valuable is visible if you leave your car.” While homicide is scary and especially prevalent this year, vehicle theft is another leading crime students should be aware of when in Jackson.