Mayor’s remarks regarding crime statistics, to Biloxi Businessmens Club, Feb. 13, 1997.
Good afternoon, and thank you for having me here today.
I am here to talk about a very important issue facing our society, and
in particular our city: CRIME, and what we have been doing to help keep our city streets and neighborhoods safe.
When I am interviewed by the national media about how great we are doing here in
Biloxi, one of the first questions I always get is about crime.
Once a city gets a reputation as being a haven for crime, you never lose that reputation. The City Council and I realized that when
gambling arrived in this community in 1992. We knew that we would have to take steps to deal with thousands of new residents and thousands of visitors every day. You know, right now we’re averaging 10 to
12 million visitors a year, according to our tourism leaders.
With that in mind, our goal was to keep this city safe for everyone.
We decided to invest millions of dollars in our public
safety. In fact, the Police and Fire Department budget has increased from $5.4 million in 91-92 to $14.2 million this year.
We have increased the number of cars, the number of officers and
investigators, and we have increased the budgets for training those officers. I believe that we have the best equipped and the best paid police department in Mississippi.
Of course, along with
that investment comes accountability. What are you and I getting in return for our investment?
I am happy to report to you that crime is down in Biloxi — and it’s not just down from last year,
it’s at a six-year LOW in some areas.
Our city streets and neighborhoods are safe for our residents and for our visitors.
We have been able to reduce the numbers of auto thefts,
burglaries and robberies. And we did this as we saw dramatic increases in the number of residents and visitors to Biloxi. And we have been able to make these reductions as the number of calls to the
Police Department has almost doubled.
Let’s go over the numbers.
Now, let me tell you a few numbers that aren’t on this chart, but are on a handout we’re giving to the media. In 1990, we
had 10 traffic fatalaties in Biloxi. In 1996, we had 6. That’s a 40 percent reduction. Can you imagine that? With all of the thousands of vehicles on our roads, the new residents and the increase in
tourism, we’ve had a decrease in fatalities.
As you watch the news reports across the country, you see crime on the increase. I’m here to tell you that we’re doing something right in Biloxi. And
it’s something that I’m very proud of.
I’m here to tell you that our Police Department is doing something right.
While I want to congratulate our Police Department on this outstanding
job, I also want to challenge our residents to help us keep Biloxi safe. Get involved in neighborhood watches. Talk to your neighbors. Watch out for each other. Dial 911 when you see something wrong.
Cooperate with our police department.
I want to come back to you next year with an even better report, but to make that a reality we all have to work together.
Once again, thank you for
having me here today. God bless each and everyone of you and God bless Biloxi.