Jackson police continue safety checkpoints in spite of lawsuit challenging their constitutionality
Chief James Davis reaffirms checkpoints are legal, gives different reason for conducting them
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Two days after the city of Jackson and its police chief got hit with a federal lawsuit alleging safety checkpoints were occurring in majority-Black, low-income parts of the city, Chief James Davis announced they would continue, with several officers holding one in the more affluent, majority-white part of Jackson.
Friday afternoon’s checkpoint took place on Ridgewood Road, a quarter-mile from the Adkins Boulevard intersection.
“We will continue to do it because it’s the state law. You know that it is our responsibility to keep the roadways safe,” Davis said.
Davis told reporters a new reason behind the checkpoints Friday when asked about the lawsuit: traffic control.
“We hear from the majority of the community. They said they are afraid to drive in Jackson because of the way people are driving. So these safety points, checkpoints is to help to ensure that all drivers are complying with the state law,” Davis said. “So we have to show great presence out there to ensure that our highways and our streets, roadways are safe.”
That reasoning came after the federal lawsuit from five Mississippians, filed by the Mississippi Center for Justice, and represents a departure from what Davis had been saying since the initiative began.
“Our intent is to get wanted individuals off the streets,” Davis told reporters six days ago.
Why the change?
Perhaps it’s because of what attorney Jerald Crawford told 3 On Your Side Thursday.
“If you’re having a roadblock that’s designed to look for drugs, and you’re using it as a crime-fighting tool, you cannot do it. It’s a Fourth Amendment issue that the city will fail,” Crawford said.
3 On Your Side reached out to a few other municipalities in the metro to discuss their approach to safety checkpoints since several departments — not just Jackson — conduct these at times.
One department declined to be interviewed for this article for fear of being sued.
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