On April 4, 2013, at 5:40 pm, 45 years after The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down on a hotel balcony in Memphis, TN, a Jackson police officer named Eric Smith was gunned down in the line of duty. Smith was in the process of interrogating Jeremy Powell for the brutal murder of Christopher Alexander, when Powell somehow managed to take Smith's service weapon, shoot Smith four times and then turned the gun on himself. Smith, who was one of the best police officers the Jackson Police Department ever had, leaves behind a widow, also a member of JPD, and two sons.
The death of a law enforcement officer is always a tragedy, and in a community like ours, it is more profound. However, it is more resonant today because in exactly 30 days, the citizens of this city will elect a mayor and a city council to lead Jackson. The fact that this tragic act, which was precipitated by another tragic act, took place in the most secure building in this city highlights the most pressing issue confronting us: Safety.
Our police force is not comprised of Supermen and Wonder Women, but they are dedicated men and women that have taken an oath to serve and protect us. In 30 days, we need to elect leaders that will unleash their full potential. JPD is underfunded, which means that they are undermanned and lack all of the resources they need to truly effectuate change in our communities. Chief Rebecca Coleman has done all that she can do to maneuver around those obstacles and her leadership should be commended, as well as rewarded.
It is now up to us. I have offered myself up twice to help this city with its legislative agenda on a full time basis, to try and secure monies from the state to help. The current city administration has declined my assistance. While that effort has been rebuffed, my passion for this city has not and I will do the one thing no one can deny me and that is voting in this upcoming election. Each and everyone of us that is registered to vote in the City of Jackson, Mississippi has that same power. We also have to power to individually make our homes, neighborhoods and schools safer without totally depending on our police force, but a stronger, well-equipped, fully staffed force will make our efforts more permanent.
Eric Smith was dedicated to his job, his family and his community. We can honor him by doing the same thing. As citizens, no matter how frustrating it has become, we must remain dedicated to the uplift of Jackson. If there ever was a time for the people to show their commitment to this great place with even greater potential, May 7, 2013 is the time to show it. Rest in peace Officer Smith and may the God who surpasses all human understanding give the Smith family and the City of Jackson the peace and comfort needed during this time of bereavement.