Ferriday PD, NRMC problems not that different

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breaking news: Ferriday ceases ticket writing.

Hard to believe, but true.

The Ferriday Police Department record books show that no tickets have been written since Friday. No arrests have been made since Saturday.

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It’s as if the whole department shut down.

In fact, it was eerily quiet when I stopped by Tuesday afternoon. I only saw two people, and all the other offices appeared to be closed up.

But as he’s always done, Police Chief Richard Madison explained things in a way that’s hard to criticize.

Madison has always said they write speeding tickets to ensure the safety of drivers and walkers. Tuesday he said the tickets had stopped because his employees were struggling personally.

Sounds crazy, but it’s a matter of motivation, really.

In Ferriday, the police chief is appointed by the mayor. The officers are hired by the town as well.

And pretty much everyone working at FPD right now must know that his or her days are likely numbered.

Saturday, former mayor Glen McGlothin eased past current mayor Gene Allen in the run-off election. McGlothin will take office July 1 and he most likely will bring his own police chief, and many of his own officers with him.

So the town, in effect, has a lame duck police force. Perhaps they aren’t writing speeding tickets because they’ve been too busy filling out job applications.

The feelings could be much the same on this side of the river at Natchez Regional Medical Center.

How are doctors, nurses, techs and administrators supposed to focus on their job duties when it’s become apparent that they might not have a job next week or next month?

Neither situation is good.

The lame duck period between mayors seems far too long in Ferriday. Four months remain before true changes will begin.

In Natchez, the hospital board seems to have tossed around idea after idea but made no decisions. Even their ideas aren’t being well communicated to the staff.

When you are dealing with large groups of people sometimes change needs to happen quickly.

Dragging it out leaves everyone in limbo, and employees are left to wonder whether their children will have food on the table in a few months.

The situation in Ferriday can’t be changed now. The mayoral terms are set by law, and the lame duck period is predetermined.

Madison and Allen said Tuesday that they fully intend to carry out every duty of their jobs until June 30.

One of those duties has now become motivation.

Madison sent word late Tuesday night to his officers that they must do their jobs now or be sent home. That’s the right rule to enforce.

But these men and women may need more than just negative reinforcement if they are expected to stick around for the next four months.

At Regional, the employees need to know the details. They need to know, in the plain, ugly truth, what the board is considering and when they are considering it.

Ultimately, employees at both locations have to make their own decisions based on their families’ needs. But in both cases, the community is relying on these men and women to stick it out, protect us, heal us and stay committed to us.

We’ve all complained about too many tickets in Ferriday. But having none at all is an even scarier prospect, because we know crime doesn’t stop with a new mayor.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.finley@natchezdemocrat.com.