By Josh Troy
The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office showed its presence with checkpoint roadblocks Wednesday night as a reminder to drive safely. Checkpoint roadblocks are when officers stop all vehicles in a certain area and ask to see the driver’s license and possibly proof of insurance and registration. The Sheriff’s Office began doing checkpoint roadblocks at around 7 p.m. Wednesday. They were located on the corner of Killebrew and Hopson streets in Lyon, past the railroad tracks coming from Lee Drive in Clarksdale to Hopson Street in Lyon, and on the corner of Friars Point Road and Lee Drive in Clarksdale.
“We have a dedicated group of five deputies,” said Coahoma County Sheriff Charles Jones. “Their only job is to saturate the community. We’re developing an organized crime unit. We’re doing checkpoints and the whole nine yards. We’re doing it every day, from Sunday through Saturday. We’re trying to help Clarksdale come back from the crime as well as the other communities. Friars Point, Jonestown, we’re not going to leave anyone out.”
Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Fernando Harris said checkpoint roadblocks are done for various reasons. “We work the county,” he said. “We work the city. We’re out everywhere. Tomorrow, we might pop up at another spot, different time. It’s just to keep people off balance. It’s a way to let them know we’re still out here.” Harris said the checkpoint roadblocks on Wednesday were in high-traffic areas.
“We’re trying to get where a lot of traffic comes in, where a lot of people come in,” he said. “A lot of people come this way. A lot of people see us at these spots right here, so we’re letting them know we’re out here. We’re trying to pick a spot where people travel a lot.” A minimal amount of tickets were handed out on Wednesday night. Harris said that when one driver appeared to be drunk, someone else was called to give him a ride home.
“We’re not here just to give tickets and take people to jail,” he said. “We’re here to give you a warning to put your seatbelt on, slow down, put your children in the car seat. We mostly just educate people about the law, keep them educated on the law.”
Jones said the Sheriff’s Office is conducting roadblocks at different checkpoints in collaboration with the Clarksdale Police Department. He added that he meets with Clarksdale Police Chief Robbie Linley regularly and talks with him several times a week. “We’re going to try to help Clarksdale as much as we can,” Jones said.
Harris encouraged everyone to drive safely at all times. He said earlier on Wednesday that drivers going around Clarksdale calling for justice for Cornelius “CJ” McGee Jr., a 15-year-old fatally shot on West Second Street a little before 5 p.m. Monday, were not being safe. Drivers were honking their horns, and individuals in the vehicles were yelling “justice for CJ” and hanging out of their cars.
“It is important to do it safely,” Harris said. “Everybody has the right to voice their opinion, but you have to do it the right way. Hanging out of the car is definitely not safe at all. Someone could fall out of their car, and the driver could be liable for that person getting hurt. Just keep that in mind. Plus, we have seat belts. Everybody has to wear a seatbelt. We definitely don’t want to see people hanging out of the windows and engaging in reckless behavior.”
Harris encouraged anyone who sees something suspicious to contact the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office at (662) 624-3085. “I tell everybody, if you see something, say something,” he said. “The smallest thing, just call. It might seem insignificant to you, but it could turn out to be something significant. So never hesitate. We will always respond and investigate.”