Jackson Police Precinct 4 Commander Wendall Watts is making a transition after May 4. On the job here since October 2010, Watts will take the position as chief of security for Central Mississippi Medical Center. Watts said by phone today that his other new position will be that of head of the Hinds County Sherrif’s Office Reserve Unit. “I want everyone to know I’m still serving in a law enforcement capacity,” he tells us “and that myself and the sheriff (Tyrone Lewis) want to keep things going.” Watts says his push for a safer Jackson and Hinds County will carry over into his new jobs. “I want to instill in everyone that we are going to push for areas to have city and county protection. I want to make all citizens feel safe.”

Watts touts a 14.6% reduction in crime in Precinct 4 during his tenure. “I made a promise when I came in,” he says, “that we could reduce it by 10%, so we are ahead.” Watts says this wasn’t an easy task with a minimal staff. He says manpower was at a low throughout this period but that his command has grown. “We have 58 officers with 6 more about to complete training.” And just announced this week, an increase in police beats from 8 to 10 – and an increase in officer presence on the streets of Precinct 4. “There are more things the city has planned,” he says, ” by year’s end.” Watts wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a beat officer on foot in Fondren, but also wouldn’t confirm it. “That’s something we’re looking at.”

Reflecting on his time with the Jackson Police Department, Watts says he loved it. “There’s nothing I would change.” He goes on to say his passion has always been with the JPD and law enforcement. “I want to make sure the citizens I work for are protected to the best of  mine and our officers’ abilities.” Watts continued his praise for his soon to be former employer. “The Jackson Police Department is a fine institution. There are a lot (of people) who have the same desire to make a difference.” And he takes with him that desire. “I’m ecstatic about my move. I’m going to continue to do what I did in Jackson for all of Hinds County.”

Watts says JPD has named a new commander, James McGowan, a narcotics unit veteran, to fill his post. 

Jim Wilkirson and Lisa Hathorn contributed to this report