Jackson and Student Safety / Evan Espinoza

Caption: Officer Travis (left) checks in with MC student Nathanael Smith (right). Officer Travis works with the Office of Public Safety on campus and regularly communicates with students like Nathanael to create a comfortable level of trust.

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. By the end of 2021, there were over 150 recorded homicides in Jackson. 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 MC 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,” Travis said. “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 Office of Public Safety 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 on campus 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.

Administration at Mississippi College works closely with Public Safety Director Mike Warren to stay informed on crime spreading from the Jackson area and keep up-to-date protocols to deal with said crime. Warren is a former police officer and keeps in touch regularly with local law enforcement in order to have a clear idea of what exactly goes on in Clinton to keep campus safe. 

“CPD can and will share any information with us [Mississippi College] on things that may or do affect the campus as long as it’s not detrimental to an ongoing case they’re working on,” said Warren. An MOU, or memorandum of understanding, exists between MC and the city of Clinton that information will be shared that is not harmful to either party. 

Warren stressed the amount of care put into safety on campus by both administration at MC as well as Clinton law enforcement, but continuously urges any students traveling into Jackson to exercise a level of caution. “As much as we try to prevent [criminal activity on campus], it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We’re blessed to have the security we have, but extra personal safety is the biggest help you can give to law enforcement.”

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