City wins fifth award in as many years

Published 6:47 pm Friday, June 29, 2007

For the fifth year in a row the City of Picayune won a Mississippi Municipal League award, and four of those years were due to efforts of the Picayune Police Department.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal that Picayune has won that many times. Citizens should be very proud of what is going on in Picayune,” MML Director George Lewis said.

The first of the city’s MML awards was collected in 2003 under the category of Planning and Development for the Senior Center. In the following two years was the Partnership Pride and Progress program and Senior Patrol both for public safety and both with the Picayune Police Department, said Picayune Public Relations Director Jon Myers. Then in 2006 Teen Court won Picayune their fourth award under the Best Overall category.

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This year the police department’s Teen 411 program won under the Public Safety category. All awards were in the category of population more than 10,000.

“I thought it was a great accomplishment,” said council member Jerry Bounds. “To win it for the fifth year in a row is an honor.”

Council member Anna Turnage said she is proud of the department and the job they do. Much planning and work was involved in the implementation of the program under the direction of Community Policing Officer Monica Jacobsen.

“I think this is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of the men and women who serve the Picayune Police Department,” Chief Jim Luke said.

The Teen 411 Program, the brain child of Luke, provides children in the Picayune area an avenue to have questions answered and concerns addressed via a communication device children understand well, technology. Children can ask questions by logging on to the Picayune Police Department website and clicking on the Teen 411 link. There an e-mail window will pop up and the question or concern can be sent in.

Luke said he has received questions ranging from seat belt laws to the topic of suicide to how to become a police officer.

“It’s not just for crime tips, it’s for any questions (concerning) the whole city,” Jacobsen said.

The award is selected by a panel of judges from out of state, and are rotated each year, Lewis said.

“That speaks a lot to the integrity of the award in my view,” Luke said.

In the past two years at least once a year the department held an open forum with the students face to face, which gave them an opportunity to have questions answered. The face to face interaction opens up the communication lines between the department and the students, Luke said. That open communication can lead to tips on possible violent situations in schools that students would have first hand information on.

Jacobsen said she enjoys working with Luke and thanks he the city council and Mayor Greg Mitchell for the opportunity to work on the program.