Change can be a good thing, even if it’s change you don’t understand. When Jackson Police Commander Kenneth Goodrum was transferred to a different precinct last October, many were concerned that Fondren’s change-agent of the law was no more. Meet the proverbial “new sheriff” in Precinct Four. 44 year old Commander Wendall Watts doesn’t play around. The man is serious about crime and eats, breathes, and sleeps “the job.” The twenty year department veteran says his life has always revolved around the law. In his former capacity, Watts served as a specialist, batting cleanup in troubled areas of the city. As commander of a group of 50, Watts’ new role is about education. “A proactive community,” he says, “is what the administration wants.” And an informed community, he tells us, is what makes his job most effective.
Statistically speaking, precinct four, which includes Fondren, has seen a 15-20% drop in overall crime in just four months under his command. Watts attributes the drastic drop, plain and simple, to community involvement. “If it makes you raise an eyebrow,” he says, ‘”we want to hear from you. A trained, educated and aware public helps deter crime.” Watts says his biggest uphill challenge is those who think they are helping while stirring up trouble. “The media, and even neighbors, make a ‘mountain out of a molehill’ and we could do without that,” Watts said. “Give us a chance to do our jobs, and tell us what you see and what you need. We’re on your side. Ask and we will give you facts, status updates – whatever you need.” Watts says the challenges of a digitally connected world make rumor patrol an unnecessary part of his command.
To that end, Commander Watts has asked Find It In Fondren to publish his personal cell phone number. That number is 601.506.7868. And, to meet Wendall Watts in person, come to tomorrow night’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) monthly meeting. The group meets at Redeemer Presbyterian Church at 5:30pm. Representatives from the Jackson Police and Fire Department will be on hand along with City officials to discuss recent projects and upcoming plans. And remember to thank Commander Watts for the job he is doing to serve and protect Fondren.