Selma City Council member addresses crime watch group

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Selma City Council member Miah Jackson visited a local neighborhood watch group on Sunday to present them with three infrared cameras to be placed in Old Town.

Jackson said the payment for the cameras came from the ward’s funding.

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Jackson represents Ward 3, which covers Old Town.

Jackson also addressed concerns in Selma city’s government.

She began by talking about finances.

“The finances of the city are in shambles,” she said. “We don’t have a policy procedural manual and I’ll be speaking to that soon. We don’t have policies or procedures and that leaves us without transparency. One or two people in the office has procedures they follow, and nobody else knows about it. Without structure there, we can’t really continue with budget processes and being fiscally responsible in the matter that we need to be. We do not have a reserve, and we are a little short-sighted in the way that we handle our finances. I came into this office in November 2016, and I found out in May 2017 that we did not have a financial policy and procedure manual in place.”

Jackson said that she is aware of only one policy that is for Human Resources.

“I have taken this on as a personal crusade because I feel that this precludes any other type of discussion especially the discussion on raising taxes” said Jackson. “That just sets me on fire … when we are not responsible for the things that we currently have. Asking for additional money is just irrational.”

She said partnership is important with groups such as the neighborhood watch.

“That is where we are with finances,” said Jackson. “Anything we can do to partner with private or public partnership is what we will have to do because to ask that the city assist would just be a request it is not something that will be funded at this time.”

Jackson said she hopes that once financial talks happen, that the city government will be able to properly serve the citizens of Selma.

She also talked about sanitation issues.

“I’m as confused as you all are about the trash situation,” she said. “I don’t know when the trash is going to be picked up. I ask and I get no answers. I am not allowed to speak to department head, and all of their phone numbers have been changed. We are cut off in that regard. The administration’s policy is that council members should not be talking to department heads. I can understand where you wouldn’t want nine different people telling the department heads what to do and there has to be one chief, so I do understand that.”

Jackson also talked about public safety.

“You hear a lot about our chief, and there are some issues there,” said Jackson. “Our police department is not a healthy organization. This organization is in need for rehab. The leadership is depleted, the morale is down, the officers are overworked and there are just a lot of issues.”

Jackson also talked about the vote to take away the police chief’s power.

“This position is part-time but it is not really performed part-time,” she said. “How are part-time people going to manage an organization that needs full-time leadership, that is unhealthy and disorganized and how are you going to get nine people to agree on how to effectively run this when we haven’t been able to read an assessment of the police department?”

Jackson also spoke about the recent arrest of fellow council member, Sam Randolph, who turned himself in on Friday, May 11, on a public lewdness charge, and was soon released on a $1,000 bond.

Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier said the charge came from an alleged April 1 incident on Broad Street.

Randolph was not arrested that night. Thursday, Collier said a warrant was obtained for Randolph’s arrest after a month-long investigation into the alleged public lewdness.

Collier asked Randolph to turn himself in Thursday, but he did not. Instead, Randolph turned himself in Friday morning around 10 a.m. alongside his attorney Yusuf Salaam and Faya Toure.

Salaam called the public lewdness charge an act of retaliation after a heated exchange between Randolph and Selma Mayor Darrio Melton during a Selma City Council meeting.

“All of a sudden you have a council member getting pulled over,” said Jackson. “I don’t have a clue about what happened that night. I don’t want to guess what happened that night. All I know is that we have the best judicial system in the land. So let the judicial system play its part.”

Jackson said that was the first time the vote to take Collier’s power away appeared on the agenda was after Randolph was pulled over.

“He was pulled over in April,” Jackson said. “We knew about it, but I don’t think the public knew about it, and he put it on the docket. I will say that sometimes the milk isn’t clean when it takes four weeks for something to come up. I thought it looked a little dirty. That is not for me to decide. We can’t act a way that you are accusing others of acting. So that went on, and the next day or so he was arrested. So that does not look good. This is how I know it was personal when we voted not to take the powers away, and he (Randolph) stood up in a rant asking if this is how we would treat him.

“This is about the leadership at the police department,” Jackson said. “This is not about him so we had not done anything to him. Our community is a reflection of our leadership. You were done wrong, your toes were stepped on, and you were offended so you came back to get your members to do something to retaliate. How is that any different than gang members on the street? We have to set a better example, and I am not going to be part of any retaliatory actions. That is why I continually voted no to that.”

Jackson also said that there was not a plan in place should the powers be taken away from Collier.

“These are some of the plights we have,” said Jackson. “My primary focus is getting finances in order because if we don’t get that in order, then we can’t do anything else. This is the pre-cursor to everything that we do. I am going to be focused on this.”