Police not always the right call when 'problems' arise

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Law enforcers spend a lot of time responding to calls in which they really can’t help. As a result, they’re losing time and money.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said his deputies leave the scene without taking any actions in about 30 percent of the calls to which they respond.
Johnson said his department has been called out because a child refused to mow the lawn or came home past curfew. Custody disputes are also a popular call for deputies, but also a call about which they can do nothing.
The primary job of law enforcement is assuring public safety and to assist the public in their safety needs, but Johnson said sometimes calls have nothing to do with safety needs.
“No matter what the call is we will always respond to it,” said Johnson. “Now, we may not be able to do anything once we get there but we are coming. It’s going to cost me the same amount of manpower and money to respond to a shooting that is does to a call that I can’t do anything about. So it costs money and it potentially can be taking resources away from an area where help is really needed.”
‘Counter-productive’
Tupelo Police Maj. Anthony Hill said a lot of his department’s calls deal with discipline problems involving parents and children. Hill said police often get called to put fear into children when they are being disobedient, which is counterproductive to the officers’ jobs.
“We try hard to build relationships with kids so they won’t be afraid of us, but sometimes we get called to scare them and that’s not what the police are for,” said Hill.
“We don’t want kids scared of us. We have an obligation to answer all calls made to the police, but we want people to realize that there are just things we can’t help them with.”
Hill said police often end up giving advice on a lot of calls.
Both Hill and Johnson encourage callers to call in if they need help, but they also encourage people to try to make sure what they are calling for is a law enforcement emergency.
“There are some people who are just going to call no matter what,” Johnson said. “We have people who call at least six times a week for almost anything you can imagine and none of it is something we can help with. But as citizens they have a right to call, but we just want them to be mindful that there may be others out there that need our help as well.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.