State Auditor: every homicide in Jackson costs Mississippi taxpayers about $1 million

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 11:49 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A new report shows just how much money crime in the city of Jackson has cost the state, and the number is in the millions.

According to the research done by the Office of the State Auditor, each homicide in Mississippi costs taxpayers between $900,000 and $1.2 million.

These costs include crime scene response and cleanup, medical treatment, compensation for the victim, and more.

The estimates suggest that taxpayers have likely lost between $136.8 and $182.4 million due to homicides reported in Jackson in 2021 alone.

“Aside from the monetary cost, we also know that every life has value in God’s eyes, and every death due to homicide is a tragedy,” said State Auditor Shad White. “Now is the time to support the police in our state and put violent criminals in jail and keep them there.”

White said those numbers don’t even include the indirect costs.

“What we know is when crime goes up, home values go down. When crime goes up, tax revenue goes down. When crime goes up, it makes it 7.5% more likely that the business will fail in the neighborhood where you’re hearing gunshots, or you’re experiencing a homicide,” he said.

As a solution, the state auditor pointed to FBI crime statistics and national studies that show the way to decrease killings is through more police officers.

“What we know based on those studies is if you invest in, let’s say, 100 additional police, that equates to between six and ten fewer homicides every single year,” he said.

White used “100″ officers as an example in the report because the Jackson Police Department’s Assistant Chief Joseph Wade told the city’s public safety committee in April that the department was 98 officers short of what it’s budgeted for.

In this meeting, Wade noted a major reason why is because of JPD’s inability to offer competitive salaries.

“The issue that we’re facing is that they can go to one of these smaller agencies and make a comparable salary, and the workload is a small percentage of what they’re doing here in Jackson,” Wade said. “Two calls for service versus 25 is a big difference.”

As the assistant chief looks to the city of Jackson for more funding, the state auditor says the city’s investment could save lives and taxpayer dollars.

“If the cost of Jackson’s homicides to taxpayers was $180 million last year, compare that to the largest teacher pay increase that the legislature passed last year, which was about $250 million. If we had had that money and could put it back into something like teacher pay, you’re talking about having some of the highest-paid teachers in the entire country,” White said. “These are real dollars that can have a huge impact on Mississippi and Jackson, but we’re not doing the things that we need to do on the front end to save that money in the long run.”

According to JPD, there have been 62 homicides in the city so far this year. The year 2021 was Jackson’s deadliest, with 153 homicides.

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