Mr. Melton on a raid by his mobile
command unit in April.
Mr Bush on an aircraft
Crime-Fighting Mayor Finds Himself Embroiled in Charges
By SHAILA DEWAN
Published: September 21, 2006
JACKSON, Miss., Sept. 20 — Most politicians who run afoul of the law are accused of bribery, kickbacks or ethics violations.
But not here in the state capital, where Mayor Frank Melton, an erratic figure who took office in July 2005, does nothing by the book. Mr. Melton has disdained such basic functions as drawing up the city’s budget in favor of cruising through the city’s worst neighborhoods in a police department “mobile command center.”
He is known for carrying two guns, wearing a police jacket and a badge, searching cars, knocking on doors and raiding nightclubs while brandishing a large stick.
Mr. Melton’s activities now threaten to derail his career. Last week, he was indicted on eight charges, including burglary, malicious mischief and causing a minor to commit a felony. Prosecutors said he had illegally carried sidearms and improperly helped demolish a duplex he says was a crack house.
Although no drugs were found in the house, occupied by a man with a history of mostly petty crimes, the mayor’s sledgehammer-wielding crew took down its front wall.
Despite the indictment, the city’s frustration with crime has kept the mayor a popular figure. At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, he was bolstered by people chanting, “Fight, Frank, fight,” and criticizing other officials for inaction.
The mayor portrays himself as a man whose mission, lowering the city’s crime rate, has been hampered by the slow-moving wheels of government.
“The only mistake that I made was a procedural mistake,” Mr. Melton said when asked this week about the duplex demolition. He did not take the time to have the house declared a nuisance, he said, because young children next door were being exposed to the drug trade.
In June, he declared a state of emergency for the city, using the latitude this gave him to impose a curfew on the homeless.
Yet it is not clear that Mr. Melton’s unorthdox tactics have had any beneficial effect. This year, crime in Jackson has increased by about 16 percent over the same period in 2005, according to police reports leaked to local newspapers. (The city generally declines to release statistics.)
In April, the Hinds County district attorney, Faye Peterson, was forced to drop murder charges against an accused gang member, she said, when it came to light that Mr. Melton had provided an apartment and cash to a crucial prosecution witness.
Mayor Melton, who is NOT a police officer and never has been, has taken to ignoring the law to attack crime.
Oh yeah, the home he destroyed belonged to a mentally ill man and there was no evidence of drugs found. And it may not actually be affecting crime.
Sound like the war on terror to you? Fuck up the wrong guy because he possibly might be guilty, and then live with the messy consequences?
posted by Steve @ 1:26:00 AM