Board approves Mullins as Natchez police chief

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Mike Mullins, a 21-year veteran of the Natchez Police Department, was named as its newest chief on a 4-2 vote by the Natchez Board of Aldermen.

Mullins said his top priority will be to continue community policing, work closely with Youth Court, improve technology and continue department programs that he said have worked to reduce crime.

&uot;It’s a tremendous honor to be appointed to head an organization of men and women who leave their homes not knowing if they will return,&uot; said Mullins.

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Mullins, former assistant chief of the department, had served as interim chief since Willie Huff resigned the post in May to serve as chief of law enforcement for the state Department of Transportation.

During that time, the Civil Service Commission narrowed 45 applications for the position down to 11.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith and the Board of Aldermen then narrowed the list to three serious candidates, interviewing them by telephone and in person before choosing Mullins.

In November, Smith said he hoped the board would be ready to appoint a new police chief by the end of 2002. But the holidays and the lengthy process of background checks pushed that date back, according to Smith.

All three candidates stressed the importance of more training, community policing and being accountable to the public, said Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West, who chairs the board’s Police Committee.

&uot;All three were tremendous candidates Š (who) stressed the serving part,&uot; West said.

The selection process was thorough, said Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem David Massey. For him, the decision was down to two candidates, &uot;and either one of them would have ended up being great.&uot;

But two of the board’s six members, Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux and Alderman Ricky Gray, voted against Mullins’ appointment.

&uot;It’s nothing personal &045; Mike’s a nice guy,&uot; Gray said, adding that he will support Mullins now that he has been chosen.

But Gray said he feels that someone who is hired from inside the department cannot effectively deal with its internal problems &045; namely, ticket-writing quotas and the presence of officer &uot;cliques.&uot;

Arceneaux would not comment following the specially-called meeting, which lasted only 10 minutes.

In response, Mullins would only say that &uot;the mayor and board members have tough decisions to make.&uot;

&uot;They put a lot of time and thought into the selection process, every one of them,&uot; he said. &uot;I appreciate their support and look forward to working with the board to continue to make this a safer community.&uot;

Mullins graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and a minor in accounting and was hired as a patrolmen with the department in 1982.

Mullins was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division and promoted to sergeant in 1989. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1998 and captain in 1999. He is also certified as an instructor by the Mississippi Board and Law Enforcement Standards.