Surge in crime seasonal, law enforcement officers say

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 15, 2001

The turkey has all been eaten, and the Christmas trees have been taken down. Maybe now a recent surge in crime in Natchez-Adams County will decline too, say local law enforcement officials.

&uot;These things come in surges like that,&uot;&160;said Adams County Sheriff Tommy&160;Ferrell. &uot;We ought to be coming out of it now.&uot;

In the past month, the Miss-Lou has been hit with a string of random crimes including a carjacking, a domestic kidnapping, two armed robberies and a rash of vehicle vandalism. Ferrell said such crime is not uncommon for the holiday season and law enforcement officers expect it annually.

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&uot;We start getting geared up for it (from Halloween on),&uot; he said. &uot;We’re on pins and needles all the way through the holiday season.&uot;

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff is also not too worried about the recent crimes or what they mean for the future.

&uot;Right now I don’t feel this is a sign of a crime wave but we’re not going to be complacent about it,&uot; Huff said. &uot;Compared to other cities our size we are extremely safe.&uot;

Huff also thinks the cold weather could be a factor in recent crime.

&uot;It could very well be some of this is from cabin fever,&uot; Huff said &uot;People have been cooped up the whole month of December.&uot;

To keep crime at bay, the City of Natchez needs to make sure the community has enough trained experiences officers so criminals are caught quickly, Huff said.

The court system also needs to punish them in a timely matter, he said.

Huff also said he thinks local residents need to protect themselves better from crime, such as keeping their vehicles locked and keeping items such as cellular phones hidden from view.

This is important because it is practically impossible to prevent all crime, officials said.

&uot;Natchez is going to have crime,&uot; Huff said. &uot;You’re going to have crime in a community.&uot;

But programs such as the Miss-Lou CrimeStoppers hotline and neighborhood watch programs also help keep the amount of crime down.

&uot;We’re (very) lucky to live in a community that’s a lot safer than a lot of cities our size,&uot; Huff said.

Ferrell agreed.

&uot;Not only is it safe, but when there is a crime that occurs like (a recent armed robbery at the Natchez Piggly Wiggly) the bad guys are caught very quickly,&uot; he said.

With the exception of the vehicle vandalism, in which vandals broke out the windows of at least 11 cars last weekend, suspects in many of the recent crimes have all been arrested and charged.

But Ferrell agreed people need to be aware of their own safety and avoid being an easy target.

&uot;A lot of things can’t be prevented no matter how many cops you have and what you do,&uot; Ferrell said.

District Attorney Ronnie Harper also said he thinks crime tends to hit a community at random.

&uot;Unless you live in a bubble you can’t prevent it,&uot; Harper said.

&uot;I have not gotten the impression that anybody just thinks it’s totally safe (and) doesn’t have to worry about crime,&uot; he said.

Adams County Supervisor Thomas &uot;Boo&uot; Campbell, who has 18 years of law enforcement experience, said he thinks economics play a factor in crime in the Miss-Lou.

&uot;I think we live in a depressed area,&uot; Campbell said. &uot;There’s no excuse for armed robbery, but when people have no money and have no outlet they do a lot of crazy things.&uot;