By Selika Sweet, M.D. FAAFP
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
It was about five years ago when former Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber had a town hall meeting with about 200 attendees. It was held in the auditorium at Murrah High School in the capital city of Mississippi with then Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance. This was the first time I had contact with the friendly, handsome man. One could easily say the Lanier High School graduate is loved by many. He was elected sheriff in 2019, beating the incumbent. And he served more than 30 years with the Jackson Police Department and was appointed chief from 2014-2017.
What impressed me about his talk was that he stated that policing should be universal, and one of the issues is the different regulations and policies according to the areas. There are more than 18,000 local police departments in the United States. Each one is subject to different state, county, and city laws and codes, giving each the appearance of individual microcosms or mini kingdoms. There are different policies, practices, and officer training programs throughout the country. There is no universal standard for governing police departments in the United States. What is the rule in one jurisdiction is not the same for another. A police officer should be able to walk in any department in the county, state, or country without missing a beat. This would allow officers from all over the state, country, and possibly the world to interchange staff.
For the most part, healthcare is standardized. For instance, there are advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), pediatric advanced life support (PALS), and basic life support (BLS) guidelines. If one is in asystole, the same dosage of epinephrine is given at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It is 30:2 for chest compressions to resuscitate for 2-person cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an adult, whether that person is receiving care at Baylor in Houston or Claiborne County Medical Center in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Medication dosages for rapid sequence intubation are universal for a clinical pharmacist at John Hopkins and Indian Health Services in Crown Point, New Mexico. A respiratory therapist, nurse, or physician could work at any healthcare facility the same day of hire with little orientation.
Licensing exams are the same for certification. RNs are employed in hospitals where there are shortages of healthcare providers anywhere in the country and some internationally. It is becoming common to see registered nurses at airports waiting for planes who just got off shift with scrubs on and a backpack with a stethoscope hanging out of the compartment. They look sleepy but, in a way, energized. You find traveling healthcare providers, especially in states such as California, Texas, and Alaska. The intensive care units, emergency departments, and labor and delivery units are often short-staffed and readily employ these locum contractors.
Hinds County’s crime rate is above average; the violent crime is 27.1 per thousand. (The U.S. average is 22.7.) Hinds County property crime is 47.8. (The U.S. average is 35.4.) Good law enforcement is needed to make the citizens safer, and a change is needed to head us in the right direction.
The late Sheriff Vance stated in an interview one month after taking office in February 2020: “We show leadership, bring everybody together – local county, state, and federal – in order to make Hinds County safer.”
Working as one unit would have allowed law enforcement from all over the country to moonlight in Hinds County, not to mention an interchange within Rankin and Madison, which would lead to a decrease in professional inbreeding, staffing difficulties, and opportunities for the exchange of best practice.
We should push for standardization of law enforcement as recommended by our fearless leader, then Hinds County and the surrounding ones would make us all safer.
The late Sheriff Lee Vance will be missed.