Law enforcement prepare for increased presence of demonstrators
(Update 8-18-20: This story has been updated to include screenshots of some of the Facebook posts circulating a day or two prior to July 15, which led to the publication of this story.)
In anticipation of an increased presence of people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement coming to Picayune on Wednesday as part of a vigil for Willie Jones, set for July 15 at 6 p.m., at J.P. Johnson Park the Picayune Police Department is working with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department to increase manpower.
“We are preparing for that and doing what we can to make sure that those in attendance stay safe,” said Picayune Police Assistant Chief Dustin Moeller.
In response to rumors on social media, Moeller said that his department has prepared for any problems that may occur to ensure the city is safe.
In response to allegations that the department “boarded up the windows”, he said the storm shutters on the building have been closed since March in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to alert the public that the facility is closed.
Moeller said Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison has agreed to provide additional personnel to assist the Picayune Police Department during Wednesday evening’s event to ensure public safety due to anticipation of an increased presence of people at the event, some of which will be from out of town.
Moeller said that all personnel have been doubled with all sworn departmental personnel working around the clock.
“We hope that there will not be any problems,” Moeller said.
As for any other departments or military presence, including the National Guard, Moeller said he would welcome and ask them for assistance if they were needed.
As for the case concerning Willie Jones, who has been missing since July 6, Moeller said the department’s detectives have been “working diligently to provide an answer.” The department has enlisted the assistance of the FBI, MBI, Homeland Security and several other agencies to fill in the gaps where local resources lack.
Moeller said that results from evidence sent to the Mississippi State Crime Lab is pending.
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