Clarksdale mayor to criminals: ‘Move out of this city now’

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CLARKSDALE, Miss. — City officials in Clarksdale are sending a strong message for criminals to get out of their town — and they're willing to help out.

Mayor Chuck Espy said Monday he'll shell out up to $10,000 of his own money to help relocate people if it means getting them to a better life, and he's encouraging other people and businesses to help too.

"If you're just simply a gang member, a criminal or a drug dealer, move out of this city now," Espy said.

Espy said six months ago, police Chief Sandra Williams rolled out a corrective action plan, making an assessment for changes to be made in the department.

Williams said the police department has added officers, and hired a retired Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent who is responsible for looking at all felony cases and handling citizens' complaints. They've also brought in extra resources to work on community policing with the patrol division.

"Now it is time for us to double down on our good efforts," Williams said.

But it's not just about arresting the bad guys. It's about a fresh start too, working with a pastor to help get those who contact their office back on the right track.

"It's not to say that you just want one criminal to move from one city to the next," Espy said. "They just might not have the good opportunities that they need in this city."

They're also starting a moving assistance program for those who consistently get in trouble and might simply be in the wrong environment.

"I will put money on the line to assist those type of people to move out of the city," Espy said. "We'll have some benchmarks that they must show, but we'll help them with leasing opportunities in other cities."

The police chief says crime is down in Clarksdale this year. So far, there has been one homicide, compared to 12 last year.
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