Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Newly confirmed Jackson Police Chief Malcolm McMillin began an internal-affairs investigation into the potentially illegal use of police property for profit this week. Deputy Chief Tyrone Lewis, who is training coordinator at the Jackson Police Academy, has been letting his son Terrell Lewis host private parties using academy facilities for months. McMillin said he was surprised at hearing of the parties.
"I had no knowledge of it until I was getting a copy of the file after the fact," McMillin said.
The city can allow use of its facilities for private use, though the process is usually limited to facilities designed for entertainment, such as the TelCom Center, community centers or Mynelle Gardens—which regularly hosts wedding ceremonies.
Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler said he feared Lewis might have put the city in legal danger by hosting uninsured gatherings.
"There is a policy in place, and there is a rental fee, but you also have to have liability insurance, just in case something happens on site, so the person over the event would assume liability in the case of problems," Crisler said. "The city is never fully free of any liability in these cases, but if the host is insured we would at least have an argument in court should we get sued. We could say that the host had gotten insurance and should therefore be accountable. But without that, the responsibility is completely on us."
Terrell Lewis, an event planner for party-planning company Average Joe Entertainment and the "Wavee Dave" mascot at Jackson State, would not comment, referring all questions to his father, who did not return calls.
Tyrone Lewis unsuccessfully ran against McMillin for the office of Hinds County Sheriff during the last election, though McMillin said he would not base any decision upon that old rivalry.
"Our earlier relationship is not causing any tension for me. We're conducting an investigation to determine if there were any violations of general order of the law," McMillin said, adding that he would withhold comment on the parties until after the investigation. "It wouldn't be right of me to comment on it until I get the results back from Internal Affairs."