‘It’s time for us to talk’: Stokes plans community meeting to discuss Capitol Police in wake of officer-involved shootings

Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes calls for meeting to discuss Capitol Police.
Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes calls for meeting to discuss Capitol Police.(WLBT)
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:00 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes hopes a community meeting Thursday night could prevent future officer-involved shootings involving the Capitol Police.

Stokes has scheduled a meeting for Thursday, September 26, at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, to give people a chance to raise concerns and ask questions about the newest police force patrolling parts of the city.

The meeting is slated to begin at 6 p.m. and will include representatives from multiple law enforcement agencies.

“We think it’s time for us to talk. We think it’s time for the Capitol Police, Jackson Police Department, and county sheriff’s department to come together with the community and let’s talk,” he said. “Let’s try to make sure we can clear the airways about the concerns we have.”

He said the meeting is needed after three officer-involved shootings involving the agency in the last six weeks, including one that resulted in death.

“We hear too often in the community that the Capitol Police are killing Black people at an alarming rate. Whether or not they have trigger-happy officers is something we need to talk about,” he added. “We don’t want to wait until this division becomes so deep and wide... we can’t work it out.”

Bailey Martin, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said one person has been killed during the shootings.

Stokes said the meeting isn’t being called to bash Capitol Police or law enforcement, but to give people a better understanding of their role and responsibilities in the city.

“We need to bring the Capitol Police and our leadership, let them explain to the citizens of this city what is taking place,” he said. “We’re going to ask Jackson Police Department to be present, to let us know their working relationship with Capitol Police... the Jackson Police Department and the sheriff’s department.”

Capitol Police patrol the Capitol Complex Improvement District, a special district that takes in a large swath of Jackson, including parts of Fondren, Belhaven, and Jackson State University.

“Even though the number is three, which sounds like a small amount... I don’t think you’ve had deputy sheriffs kill anybody,” he said. “If you look at how many sheriff’s [deputies] have killed people in this city over the whole year, I doubt that number is three. I don’t know how many [people] Jackson police officers have killed. I doubt you’ve had three people killed by the FBI.”

“So even though it seems like a small number, it’s an alarming number. We’re not used to law enforcement taking lives in the city so quickly,” the councilman continued.

He did not know the details of the shootings but said in some cases people might not know the role of Capitol Police, citing a constituent who called him about being stopped by Capitol officers at a roadblock.

“I’ve had people in my ward when the water was being given away at the Fairgrounds, and they came to a roadblock with Capitol Police, and they were, you know, they were stunned. They were calling me,” Stokes said. “You think that the only police with police power in this city is just the police department, Hinds County Sheriff’s Department, and Highway Patrol.”

“So, that’s why we’ve got to educate people and let them know what’s going on,” he said. “You know, I’ve been through the roadblock. They’re professional... They carry themselves professionally, they talk to you professionally. But we don’t need animosity to rear its ugly head and destroy something that can make the city safe. All we have to do is talk, and that’s why I say, ‘let’s talk.’”

New Hope is located at 106 Hamilton St. For more information, contact Stokes at (601) 960-1090.

WLBT Investigative Reporter C.J. LeMaster contributed to this story.

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