Don't Blame (It All on) Melton

Leland Speed, whose family enthusiastically supported Frank Melton in his mayoral run, is going around saying something amusing about the beleaguered mayor in recent days as rumors fly about possible federal grand-jury indictments against the city's loose-cannon folk hero.

Speed is saying that he has told Melton that he doesn't get to utter the word "crime" any more. Just don't say the word.

It's a quip worth a giggle—but it's one of those laughs you stop in the middle of and grimace, when you suddenly remember that Speed and friends were among the Jacksonians who wouldn't acknowledge the city's victories (including against crime) under the last mayor and police chief. Speed's crowd was gullible and, somehow, bought it when Melton said he would solve crime in 90 days, that help was on the way, that he would run the "thugs" out of town (wink, wink). Many in the Speed circle seemed to think that Melton had the ticket to ending crime because, well, he said he did.

On the Paul Gallo show this week, Speed downplayed the idea that crime is out of control in Jackson and so, so much worse than anywhere else—presumably doing damage control before crime fear runs off more of our tax base than we were losing back under an administration that wasn't, say, being investigated by the FBI for various ridiculous, and possibly criminal, actions.

Where was Mr. Speed four years ago when crime was actually falling? Why wasn't he saying the same thing then when The Clarion-Ledger oh-so-cheerily skewed the last police chief—he of the weekly press briefings—for telling them that media sensationalism was creating the perception in the community that crime was out of control—which, in turn, hurt the department's efforts?

The Ledger, in its fourth-grade way, shortened that very true warning to a misleading whine that the chief was saying that crime in Jackson is just a perception! The Ledger even stooped to repeating that false accusation about Chief Moore as recently as last week in an editorial about our current useless police chief and the spiking crime we're seeing today.

Now, Speed is in effect parroting what the last chief warned about: Hopelessness about crime will only cause it to increase. It will hurt police morale, it will hurt the tax base, and that in turn will cause more crime.

We wish he'd said that four years when it was more credible than today.

But despite the political inconsistency, we're with Speed on this point. Crime in Jackson—by politician or petty thieves—is not insurmountable. The community must come together both to lessen the conditions that breed crime, and in a show of strength against criminals and mayors who want to rule Jackson on their own terms. It is time that citizens learn from our past and stop believing empty sound bites. They got us here.


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