Local fire and law enforcement officials are reporting a quiet Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.
Mississippi Highway Patrol released enforcement numbers for the New Year’s travel period, which ran from 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve to midnight of Jan. 2. MHP’s Troop G, which includes Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, issued 241 citations, including three for driving under the influence and one drug arrest.
Troopers investigated 13 collisions in Troop G, which led to two casualties. No fatalities were reported in the region for the holiday period.
MHP Master Sgt. Criss Turnipseed said the period was quiet, which could be because the holiday fell on a weekend.
“Usually when you have a long holiday, like if New Year’s had been on a Friday and we’d gone through the weekend too, you see more activity,” he said.
Turnipseed said rainy weather also reduced traffic through the holiday travel period.
Across the state, MHP issued 1,267 citations and 44 DUI arrests. The agency investigated 94 vehicle crashes with 24 injuries and four fatalities.
Three people were killed in a Sunday afternoon collision in Jefferson Davis County. Another person died on Sunday afternoon when a vehicle went off the road in Jasper County.
Troop G saw no fatalities and a limited number of injuries for the Christmas and New Year’s enforcement periods. Turnipseed attributed that, in part, to the troop’s officers, especially working with limited manpower.
“We had our guys out there working hard on the holidays while most people are enjoying time with their families,” he said. “We had a successful holiday in Troop G, especially with the manpower we’ve got. Hopefully next holiday we’ll have more coverage.”
Both Columbus and Starkville police departments also reported relatively quiet holiday periods.
Jeremy Wells, a 25-year-old Columbus resident, was shot in the hip in the parking lot of the Columbus Fairgrounds the morning of Dec. 26. Wells was flown to North Mississippi Medical Center, and most recent updates report him to be in stable condition.
Columbus Police Chief Oscar Lewis said the city saw a relatively calm holiday period, other than that incident.
Lewis said the rainy weather likely kept people in, which may have helped. He said CPD also had extra officers out during the holidays.
“It’s not just one thing in particular,” Lewis said. “All of these things combine. There were several things going on at one time that help, and I just thank God for it.”
In Starkville, police are investigating two armed robbery cases. One case happened on Dec. 28 in the parking lot of Dollar General on North Jackson Street. Another occurred in an apartment complex on Locksley Way.
Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols said the department is still investigating the incidents. He said they were the only major incidents to happen in the holiday period, which fell in line with expectations.
Nichols said the holidays can be prone to events like robberies, especially during heavy shopping periods.
“It’s an opportune time during the holidays to do that with everyone out shopping and carrying around money,” Nichols said.
He said SPD has had extra officers out, mainly in the evenings and at night, patrolling neighborhoods, business areas and apartment complexes.
Columbus Fire Chief Martin Andrews said his department saw a quieter holiday period than usual, too. He said the department responded to medical calls, as usual, and a minor house fire before Christmas.
“Normally, from about two weeks before to two weeks after Christmas someone loses something of significance in a fire,” Andrews said. “That hasn’t happened so far this year, and we’re happy about that.”
Andrews said Columbus Fire and Rescue’s educational efforts might be gaining traction in the community and leading to a reduction in fires.
Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said the county saw limited issues.
“There were some grass fires Friday and Saturday, but other than that, it’s been real quiet, and I’m really happy for it,” he said. “Normally we have some fires or injuries from fireworks.”
Rosenhan said firefighters also responded to several medical calls and one wreck.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.