Natchez Police earn grant for in-car cameras

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2001

By next spring, Natchez Police cars may be equipped with dash-mounted video cameras.

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff announced Tuesday the city received a $36,075 grant through the U.S. Justice Department’s Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program.

It was the fifth year the department has been issued the grant funds.

&uot;In the past, we’ve used the funds to improve our technology,&uot; Huff said. &uot;We’ve used it to put laptops in police cars and develop a computerized mug shot system.&uot;

Huff asked the Natchez Board of Alderman to pay the required $3,608 in matching funds necessary and allow Huff to proceed with the paperwork necessary to secure the grant funds.

&uot;It will give us evidence on crimes such as DUI and also it will record actions and behaviors on general traffic stops,&uot; Huff said.

The dash-mounted cameras will record video of traffic stops and audio fed to the recorder from a wireless mic each officer will wear, Huff said.

The cameras will &uot;certainly help boost safety for the officers,&uot; Huff said, adding that individuals stopped may behave better if they know they’re being videotaped.

Once the paperwork is completed and the funds are issues, Huff said the city will bid the project out and expects the cameras to be in place and operating by sometime next spring.

In other action, the board:

— Heard from City Clerk Donnie Holloway who reported the city’s doing well financially. With three-quarters of the fiscal year complete, the city’s at 78 percent of budgeted revenue and 74.7 percent of budgeted expenses.

— Heard a report from Huff about the upcoming National Night Out which will be held on Aug. 7. Neighborhood Watch groups throughout Natchez are planning to recognize the event.

— Announced the receipt of two grants for the city. One is a $25,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. It will be used for cleanup of illegal dumps throughout the city. Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West asked that each alderman compile a list of the worst areas in their wards to help prioritize the work. The second grant, in the amount of $11,286, was given by the Mississippi Forestry Commission. It will fund the purchase and planting of 250 trees throughout the city.

— Approved the deed dedication of a 0.81 acre section of roadway called the Feltus Street Extension.

— Heard from Alderwoman Sue Stedman who said she spoke with officials with the Natchez-Adams County Economic and Community Development Authority’s executive board last week. The EDA expects to have its new executive director hired and in place in the next 30 days, she said.

— Heard from City Attorney Walter Brown who reported unexpected asbestos abatement at Liberty Park property to be sold to the National Park Service will cost the city about $850. Brown also announced only one piece of property remains to be acquired by the park service for the extension of the Natchez Trace Parkway. That property is owned by the Bell Estate and is being acquired by the state through eminent domain.

— Heard from Natchez Director of Tourism Management Walter Tipton who reported the city is promoting an art exhibit at the NAPAC Museum with billboards in the Jackson area. Tipton said tourism is busy in Natchez with a dance Friday night sponsored by the Natchez Downtown Development Association, this weekend’s Minorville Jubilee and the Natchez Food, Home and Health show on Aug. 11-12. And officials are preparing for the Great River Road Food Festival &uot;Great Chefs In Great Houses.&uot; The event will be Aug. 17-19 and will be fully funded by a grant, Tipton said.

— Heard from Tipton that the audit report for the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau is completed. &uot;It’s as clean of an audit report as the CVB’s had in the past four years,&uot; Tipton said.

— Heard an update on the tourism department from Tipton. The department recently sent out 3,875 promotional items through the mail, made 53 calls promoting the convention center, sent out 200 packets and have 21 leads on conventions for next year, Tipton said.

— Heard a report from City Engineer David Gardner concerning the emergency repairs to Highland Boulevard. The repairs were necessary after a large sink hole developed in the roadway. To date, the city has spent $27,110.33 on the project with two more bills still outstanding.

— Alderman James &uot;Ricky&uot; Gray reported the Natchez Fire Department responded to 63 calls (46 inside the city limits,.17 in the county). The department spent a total of 228 man hours on calls.

— Considered bids of $35,313.44 from BellSouth and $21,404.39 from ITC Delta com for a new telephone system for the Natchez Police Department’s building. The board opted to take the bids under advisement, but took no formal action.

— Agreed to allow Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith to proceed with the sale of a HUD house if the Nations family secures financing on the property.

— watched a dance presentation from members of the Natchez Recreation Department’s summer day camp as part of the PROUD Program (People Representing Our Unique Diversities). The group under the direction of Wilbert Whittley and Deborah McNeal performed an African dance for the board.

— Reappointed George Robinson to Civil Service Commission.

— Tabled a decision to nominate an open board member to the Natchez Convention Promotion Board. The position opened after Woody Allen left the board to head the Nachez-Adams County Economic and Community Development Authority’s executive board.

— Heard complaints from Henderson Street residents about flooding and erosion problems in their neighborhood. Alderman Gray, City Engineer David Gardner and Mayor Smith are to meet at the site and examine the problem.

— Recognized Andrew Frye from the city’s traffic maintenance department as the employee of the month for March.