Police Chief Ron Sampson said his department has greatly improved during his eight-month tenure with a decrease in crime reports and a heightened sense of community engagement.
“In the eight months that I have been here, we have been pretty progressive with some of the things we have done,” Sampson said, to the Yazoo City Rotary Club on Wednesday.
Along with newly installed body cameras and an increase in professional training, Sampson said he is excited about the establishment of the department’s crime prevention unit. Of course, the unit is geared to prevent crime. But Sampson said it is also about engaging with the community.
“We will be doing a lot more community outreach efforts in crime prevention,” he said. “What we are trying to do more than anything is trying to get people to engage with the officers. Let people know we are approachable. We don’t just write tickets or put people in jail.”
One avenue of community outreach involves the local youth, Sampson said. The police department has been very active with The Breakfast Club, a mentoring program, for the past five months. His department has also made efforts to interact with children more to show that the police are here to help.
“They see us in uniform, and we are not coming with some task of an arrest,” he said.
Sampson said his department plans to create a summer youth program, as well as an identification program.
“We are really trying to engage our kids right now, keep them out of trouble,” Sampson said. “Our juvenile crimes are down.”
Sampson said he plan to continue the progress he said his department have made over the past several months of his leadership. He asks for the community to support his officers, who he said are dedicated and true public servants.
“We are doing everything we can with what we have,” Sampson said. “We are not going to make excuses. We are going to do our job and be professional. What used to be is no longer. We are a different police department from eight months ago.”