Jackson Police Department’s Neighborhood Targeted TAT Checkpoints are Bad Policy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JACKSON, Miss. – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi sent a letter to Jackson Police Chief James Davis, City of Jackson Attorney Catoria Martin, and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba calling on the police department to end its Ticket, Arrest, Tow (TAT) initiative, which is unconstitutional, bad policy and vulnerable to substantial legal exposure.
TAT, which has been in operation since January 2022, targets motorists through traffic stops that are not based on probable cause. During a February 10, 2022 news conference, Deputy Chief Deric Hearn stated the primary purpose of the TAT Initiative is to reduce violent crime in the City of Jackson. It is unconstitutional to set up checkpoints for the general purpose of crime control. Furthermore, checkpoints are not proven to reduce crime.
The extreme targeting of motorists, often in Black neighborhoods, is unconstitutional and impacts people’s ability to go to work, run errands, and take care of their families. These are liberties we all should be able to enjoy freely.
The letter reads: “In addition, fines and fees resulting from traffic stops disproportionately impact communities of color and people who are poor. This criminal debt can accumulate and create an unending cycle of citation, arrest, fine, court, and even jail.”
Jarvis Dortch, Executive Director of ACLU of Mississippi, said, “The gun crimes and murders taking place in Jackson are senseless and terrifying. These acts beg for a strong response, but that response should be smart. Not one that doubles down on the failed policies of mass incarceration. Not policies that clearly violate the constitution and serve to harass hardworking citizens primarily.”
“We have worked with the City of Jackson and JPD successfully on several occasions in the past. However, we are greatly concerned by the unconstitutional intent of the TAT initiative. If JPD continues these checkpoints, we are ready to vindicate the rights of our fellow Jacksonians,” Josh Tom, Legal Director of ACLU of Mississippi, said.
The ACLU of Mississippi and its partner organizations won a federal lawsuit against the Madison County Sheriff’s Department in 2017 in part over a checkpoint program designed for general crime control. The ACLU of Mississippi hopes the letter to Jackson officials will result in the end of the initiative and avoid the City of Jackson expending significant time, money, and resources defending itself.
Read the full letter below.