JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As we look to the upcoming law changes as a result of the latest legislative session, we’re turning our attention to the Department of Public Safety.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell is looking for ways to make things more efficient. One issue he’s hoping to tackle is a significant backlog of autopsy cases at the State Medical Examiner’s Office.
“We had 570 homicide last year,” noted Tindell. “That was a record year for homicides. We’re on pace to do that again. So, there’s a lot of demands on an already stressed system.”
Lawmakers approved six new death investigator positions in an attempt to alleviate some of that stress. They’ll assist with autopsies and testify in court, when a doctor’s expertise isn’t needed to provide cause of death testimony.
For officer involved shootings, the DPS omnibus bill makes it mandatory for MBI to lead those investigations and ensure the public has confidence in how they are handled. It’s something Tindell notes is particularly important as we see added scrutiny nationwide.
“If one department in one part of the state is releasing information too soon, another one’s not releasing any information... all those things are things that violate the trust of the public,” added Tindell. “And so what we’re again hoping to do is bring some continuity so the public will have some faith in the process and how these are handled.”
Meanwhile, the department’s power will get a boost as the agency absorbs new enforcement and patrol responsibilities. First, DPS will absorb Capitol Police with plans to increase officer presence through the Capitol complex.
“We want people to feel comfortable coming into those venues visiting the city of Jackson but also visiting their capital city,” said Tindell.
DPS is also adding the law enforcement functions from MDOT. And they’ll now be allowed to run radar on interstates in larger cities like Jackson where they previously couldn’t do so.
With those added responsibilities, they want to keep the trooper ranks up. So, they’ll have the ability to shorten the required timeline for trooper school if the individual has at least two years law enforcement experience and is certified.