Jackson mayor has crossed line

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mississippians always look to the city of Jackson to gauge how the rest of the state is going.

With Jackson as its model, other parts of the state &8212; even the wacky ones &8212;look pretty dog gone good right about now.

TV broadcaster turned Jackson Mayor Frank Melton has been a lightning rod for controversy since he first took office. But his shenanigans last week have drawn fire not just from the city residents, but from national groups, too.

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Melton, in an effort to prevent crime, allegedly, has taken it upon himself to declare a curfew for homeless persons.

The mayor&8217;s seemingly broad plan involves having the Jackson Police Department enforce the curfew, rounding up homeless and housing them in gymnasiums.

The logic, however, is lost on us. First, this is still America and adults should be allowed to walk the public streets at their leisure regardless of the time of day &8212; homeless or not. If the people are loitering or breaking some other law, then cite them for it. But don&8217;t just issue a blanket statement that all homeless will be rounded up. Jackson doesn&8217;t need to have its police department turned into a ghetto Gestapo.

If the police force had the time to round up homeless and care for them at night, why not just hit the streets more often and have their presence deter crime?

It may not be as flamboyant of a plan as the one Mayor Melton proposes, but we bet it would be a lot more effective and certainly a lot more constitutional.