Mayor Jamie Mayo says his administration’s focus during the new year would be on an initiative called “Operation Ceasefire” but neither the mayor nor the police department could provide specifics on what the initiative might entail.
Mayo announced the adoption of “Operation Ceasefire” as his 2020 new year’s focus during a news conference last week at the Public Safety Center. Each year, Mayo announces a focus for his administration whether it’s installing fire alarms in homes or encouraging city employees to participate in benevolent acts.
The name of the adopted initiative, “Operation Ceasefire,” refers to a violent crime deterrence campaign launched in Boston, Massachusetts in the late 1990s. It aimed to combat an epidemic of youth homicide from the 1980s through much of the 1990s. The initiative was studied by the U.S. Department of Justice and has been implemented in several cities across the country. Many of the cities adopting “Operation Ceasefire” claimed drops in violent crime by as much as 30 percent.
The city of Monroe’s claim that violent crime dropped by 38 percent in 2018 contrasts sharply with the city’s record of at least 14 homicides in 2019. The high murder rate prompted a handful of public safety meetings hosted by Mayo’s administration in late 2019.
In his remarks last week, Mayo characterized the homicides and other violent crimes as the result of heated arguments where guns were present.
“Most of these crimes, these violent crimes, are because of people knowing each other,” Mayo said. “They know each other. They get into these disputes, and that’s when some of these things escalate, and that’s unfortunate. They have arguments, or heated arguments. We’re never going to be able to reduce arguments.”
“We’re not naive to thinking that we will stop this completely,” he later added.
When asked about what specific efforts the city’s Operation Ceasefire might entail, Mayo said, “Each year when we announce the initiative, we don’t have everything set out.”
“We start putting things together as we go forward,” Mayo said.
When asked further questions, Mayo suggested an action plan might be crafted.
“I’ve asked the police department to put together an action plan to reduce guns in the community, especially those who should not have guns.”
Mayo defended his administration’s past initiatives to stem crime in Monroe, referring to the S.A.V.E. Initiative which began with community meetings where city officials could receive feedback from the public. According to Mayo, Operation Ceasefire would become part of the S.A.V.E. initiative.
“Operation Ceasefire is the public safety initiative that I’m announcing this New Year’s Day,” Mayo said. “This will go along with the other programs we have. It will be under the heading of the S.A.V.E. initiative and will allow us to do more things to get these guns off the streets.”
Monroe Police Det. Reginald “Reggie” Brown argued that Operation Ceasefire could be customized to each city’s needs. It was for that reason that the city had no details yet on how the police department would implement the initiative, according to Brown.
“We do believe it could be successful here,” Brown said.
In many cities, as in Boston, Operation Ceasefire addressed either gang violence or violent crime rates committed by a particular age group, normally men of ages 24 and younger. The city would target neither gang violence or violent crime among a particular age group, according to Mayo.
“We’re addressing everyone,” Mayo said. “We’re not targeting a specific age.”
Prior to announcing Operation Ceasefire, Mayo expressed criticism of any person who criticized his administration’s efforts to stem crime.
Later in the meeting, he also knocked The Ouachita Citizen for asking questions about his plan.