On Monday, the Mobile Police Department released an update on the massive drug operation it conducted last week in the Maysville community that led to multiple arrests and restraining orders being placed on two nuisance properties.
Operation “May Day,” was the culmination of eight months of intelligence gathering that helped secure search warrants for nine properties and arrest warrants for 20 individuals. Charges were also secured for 14 felonies and six misdemeanors.
In many instances, the Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team conducted controlled buys to identify persons and locations responsible for the distribution of narcotics in the area.
Though only five of those with warrants were apprehended, joining four additional suspects who were arrested on possession charges, MPD Chief James Barber called the operation a success.“We were able to get the outcome we wanted, which was to stop the illegal drug activity in the Maysville community,” Barber said on Friday. “Right now, we’ve got a temporary hold on it and we’re working diligently with community leaders to keep that hold.”
Today, the names of the first nine suspects arrested were released to the public, and at least three of them were already booked into jail for previous crimes. There names, mugshots and associated charges are listed below.
In addition to the arrests, five new individuals will be granted entrance into the department’s Second Chance or Else (SCORE) program, which was first used in the wake of a similar drug operation in the Campground community.
A partnership with the MPD, the Mobile County Health Department, Spring Hill College and U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown’s office, SCORE gave nine non-violent, low-level drug dealers a chance to avoid the charges against them.
Instead, they were enrolled in fatherhood courses, drug addiction counseling and provided job training and opportunities for employment. Though similar programs have been attempted, what makes SCORE different is the role a panel of community leaders plays in the process.
Both authorities and the first participants of the program have touted its success, though at least one participant was ultimately removed for failing to meet drug education and testing requirements. According to Barber, he has since been charged with distribution based on the evidence the department held against him.
A second participant, who entered the program voluntarily and without a pending case, has started employment in another city, but the other seven remain in the program and will for another four months.
“Other than just locking people up, it gives folks an opportunity to rebuild themselves,” SCORE participant Terrell Evans said. “I had never really been in any big trouble, but I had been injured and was out of work. So, I found myself out in the street trying to make money. I wasn’t making thousands of dollars or anything, I was just getting by.”
Barber said all of the program’s participants, like Evans, do not have extensive or violent criminal histories. For some, the charges brought against them would constitute their first felony, which police say would likely make it even more difficult to find legitimate employment.
That approach is now being explored by several departments in Mississippi, some of which met with local law enforcement last week when representatives from the city of Clarksdale, Coahoma County and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics met in Mobile for a presentation about the SCORE program.“Mass incarceration has not worked and has left a lot of our communities really decimated,” U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams of Mississippi’s Northern District said. “Some of these communities, of course, feel like they’ve been over policed. You have police there making a number of arrests, but in terms of an actual benefit to the communities, a lot of people feel like they haven’t been made much safer.”
As Barber has said many times, Adams suggested a program like SCORE really encourages community buy-in, which helps not only to eradicate immediate crime, but also helps regulate the communities on a long-term basis.
The biggest difference between Mobile and their area of Mississippi is the size of the population. The communities in question are much smaller, but Adams said that doesn’t mean they’re immune from the effects of drugs and the systemic crime that follows drug trafficking.
Though the communities do have an interest in testing out a similar program, no definitive plans have been made at this time.
Meanwhile, in Mobile the program is just now expanding to include another community with a history of drug activity — the Maysville area. As a part of the operation mentioned above, five identified dealers will be offered the chance to have those charges dropped if they participate in the program.
As was the case in the Campground, Maysville’s SCORE participants were selected by a new panel of community leaders from that area. The panel, which consists of seven members, met for the first time Nov. 19 and heard from those that directed the program in the Campground community.
“Everyone I know wants to have a blessing,” Rev. Bobby Brown told the incoming panelist from Maysville. “When you get on this panel, you’re going to be the blessing for someone else, and you’ll in turn be blessed by helping them.”
As for the five in Maysville, those who accept the one-time offer into the program have until Nov. 25 to make a decision, when a mandatory meeting is set to go over the requirements and introduce the participants the new panel members.
Barber said the choice is simple, they can join the program or go jail, as failure to attend will result in the department moving forward with the pending charges against the individuals.
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