The Leflore County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon, allowing the Sheriff’s Department to use additional outside force to try to ease gun violence.
The declaration was spurred by recent criminal activity in the community, including a shooting death Monday night and gunfire that wounded four on Wednesday.
Sheriff Ricky Banks said 17-year-old Devonyae Miles, was shot to death Monday. His death is the 12th homicide in the county this year, already surpassing the total of 11 for all of 2019.
Additionally, Greenwood Police Chief Jody Bradley reported four people were injured in gunfire Wednesday afternoon. Only one of the victims remained hospitalized Wednesday evening.
At the special called meeting, the board, Banks and Fred Randle, director of the Greenwood-Leflore Emergency Management Agency, signed a declaration that allows the Sheriff’s Department to use more law enforcement and further measures to try to curb gun violence. Randle said the move enables the sheriff to seek additional manpower for both the city and county.
District 3 Supervisor Anjuan Brown said that the declaration is appropriate and helps show the public that county officials are taking this violence seriously.
“I understand there is some intel going on that the public does not need to know about,” Brown said. “We are not just sitting down. Law enforcement is not just sitting down. Sheriff is not just sitting down. Chief is not just sitting down. Fred is not just sitting down.”
Reginald Moore, vice president of the board, who initiated the declaration, spoke on how drastic the situation has become.
“This rash of shootings and gun violence that has a grip on this community has gotten well out of hand,” Moore said. “We have to stop this. We have to put a cap on this. We have to protect our children.”
Banks said that this violence has a clear focal point — “It’s not the citizens; it’s the gangs” — but he is unsure how much the declaration will help.
“Getting some extra law enforcement people in here, we’ll show them strength, and maybe it will settle down to a point,” Banks said. “But I don’t think it’s going to stop what’s going on, and I don’t know how to stop it.”
Banks said his department is dealing with criminals who shoot multiple rounds, and the department can seem outnumbered at times. “They got more guns than we got,” he said.
“That’s why we are in a state of emergency. That’s why we need a declaration,” Moore responded. “Because we are in trouble.”
Banks also said the department is dealing with a lack of cooperation from the community. He said parents must step up and push their children to tell the truth.
“These kids nowadays, they won’t even tell mama what they are doing, and they sure as hell won’t tell me what they’re doing,” Banks said. “That didn’t use to be the way it was.”
Robert Collins, president of the board, also said reaching out to the public is key in this fight. He said that citizens with information need to come forward so law enforcement can handle the situation. He warned that if something does not change, then the consequences could be tragic.
“The only thing left is going to be young black girls in the street. No black males, because they are going to be in jail or dead,” Collins said. “And that’s just the truth.”
All members of the board, except Sam Abraham of District 1, were present and signed the declaration. Moore assured the board that Abraham had expressed that he was “totally on board” with the decision.
• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW