It was a standing room only crowd of 50 plus precinct 4 residents and officials for the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Thursday night at Redeemer Church. Commander Wendell Watts was in his normal, jovial, up- tempo mood to share information about the precinct. He quickly updated the audience about the 20% crime rate reduction. “We have crime. But don’t think that Jackson is a bad place. I have been in different places around the metro and yes, they have crime too,” he said.

Most of the crime incidents in the precinct are house burglaries and car break-ins. It seems that most of these crimes are being committed by a group of suspects containing about 10-15 members. They were arrested at one point, but made bail and are up to their old ways. “We know that they are out there and they are probably responsible for these crimes. It’s just a matter of catching them again,” he stated. “With a unit of eight officers per shift in such a spread out area, it is difficult for the officers to be everywhere at all times.”

Watts again gave out his personal phone number for residents and insisted that he still is not receiving enough calls from citizens. He encouraged the audience on more than one occasion to please call him when there is an issue. “If I am out, I will take care of it or make sure one of the officers does. And I am usually out on the patrol,” he said with a grin.

Citizens recounted police records, which they either reported or were familiar. Watts had no new updates for these instances but offered information that detectives and other officers are not always in communication.

The next Community Police Academy Class will take place February 28 – March 4. Each night’s class will be from 6 pm – 8 pm. This is an opportunity for citizens to tour and learn firsthand the operations and inner workings of the precinct. There is even a ride along and opportunity to go to the shooting range.

Many tips about how to protect oneself were given. He discouraged carrying weapons because of the possibility that if one is not trained to use the weapon, even pepper spray or mace, it could be used against you by a criminal. He suggested to carry a personal alarm or whistle to use to bring attention to any issue that may occur.

Commander Watts can be reached at 601.506.7868.

West Fondren resident Langston Moore contributed this report to FindItInFondren.com