Gov. Phil Bryant Signs Package of Law Enforcement Measures
JACKSON, Miss. (Press Release) — Gov. Phil Bryant today signed a package of three law enforcement measures into law. The package included bills to fund a trooper school, hire additional assistant district attorneys and require DNA testing for certain violent offenders.
“Last year, I pledged that this legislative session would focus on public safety, and these bills are a reflection of that effort,” Gov. Bryant said. “Taken with the criminal justice reforms we enacted earlier this year, this package of bills will ensure that Mississippi is better prepared to execute the first duty of government—protecting public safety. I thank the Legislature for sending these bills to my desk.”
House Bill 1, which was adopted during a special legislative session called by Gov. Bryant, provides additional assistant district attorneys in high-need areas throughout the state. Fourteen ADAs will be hired in November, and one each will be hired in 2015 in Districts 19 and 20.
Senate Bill 2430, known as “Katie’s Law,” requires DNA collection from offenders arrested for violent crimes. Violent crime is defined in House Bill 585, the omnibus criminal justice reform bill that Gov. Bryant signed into law earlier this year. The bill was supported by Jayann Sepich, whose organization DNA Saves advocates for states to adopt laws allowing DNA to be collected from certain offenders upon arrest.
The Sepich’s daughter Katie was the victim of a violent sexual assault and murder. Had DNA testing been conducted on the suspect when he was arrested for an unrelated crime, Katie’s murder could have been solved and her killer taken off the streets much sooner.
“Our family knows too well the pain of losing a much-loved child to a violent crime. And we know that using the powerful science of DNA to its fullest potential not only solves crimes faster, it prevents crimes and saves lives,” Jayann Sepich said. “We are so grateful to Senator Brice Wiggins and Representative Mark Formby for introducing and championing Katie’s Law in Mississippi. We applaud their courage and the strong support of Governor Bryant in making DNA the fingerprint of the 21st century in Mississippi.”
According to DNA Saves, with the advent of DNA taken upon felony arrest, California cleared or aided in the investigation of more than 50 percent of the unsolved cases added to its database between January 2009 and July 1, 2011. DNA Saves also estimates that DNA testing had led to the exoneration of more than 200 wrongfully convicted individuals in the United States.
Gov. Bryant also signed Senate Bill 2871 into law. The measure is the appropriation bill for the Department of Public Safety and includes the $6.9 million in funding the governor requested to conduct a training school to hire additional Highway Patrol troopers.
“We have known that the Mississippi Highway Patrol is suffering from a shortage of officers, and we know that without more troopers on the road, people will die,” Gov. Bryant said. “It was critically important to me that we move forward with a trooper school this year, and I am very pleased that we will conduct a trooper school this year. Mississippians deserve to know we are serious about protecting public safety, and the troopers in this state deserve to know we are working to provide them with the manpower and resources they need.”
The objective of the administration of the Mississippi Highway Patrol is to begin Cadet Class 61 in November of 2014 with 75 cadets and have several alternates for the first two weeks of the class. The goal is to graduate 60 new troopers in the spring of 2015.
Applications will be available May 1st at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Headquarters located at 1900 East Woodrow Wilson Blvd., in Jackson, Mississippi and at each of the District Offices of the Highway Patrol (visit DPS website, http://www.dps.state.ms.us/ for the locations of MHP District Offices). Applicants may also call DPS Human Resources at 601-987-1264, and request an application be mailed to them. The deadline for submission of completed applications is June 16, 2014.
Applications will not be offered nor accepted electronically.