Board must make decision on officer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A state board has cancelled the certification of Natchez police officer Willie B. Jones &045; meaning, quite simply, that he cannot continue serving as a law enforcement officer for now.

The ruling is plain, and the City of Natchez must abide by it. For months, Jones has served on the force after the Natchez Board of Aldermen hired Jones despite the fact that hiring of police officers is the job of the Civil Service Commission.

We believed then, as we do now, that the aldermen &045; who were split 3-3 and had to have Mayor Phillip West break the tie &045; had no business hiring Jones in the first place.

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It has never our place to say whether Jones was fit to serve as an officer &045; but it was never the Board of Aldermen’s place to say, either.

What has been wrong about this situation from the beginning is the mayor and board’s overstepping their bounds on such a decision.

West and the aldermen need to quickly to call a special meeting to address this situation, and unfortunately they need to let Jones go from the force.

Like it or not, the very state board that determines whether a person can serve as an officer has decided Jones cannot for the next two years.

We believe the mayor and aldermen violated state statute by hiring Jones in the first place, but surely they won’t blatantly ignore Thursday’s decision by the State Board of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.

It is time to put this issue to rest and get on with the business of the city.