• 63°

Police issue needs strong leadership

Former Sheriff Tommy Ferrell has never been one to sugarcoat his opinions on an important matter, especially one relating to law enforcement.

And with 37 years in law enforcement, 16 years as Adams County Sheriff, a presidency with the National Sheriff’s Association, numerous leadership years with the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association and a sheriff family pedigree, he’s qualified to opine.

Now retired — but still active in law enforcement circles — Ferrell has the luxury of sitting back and offering advice from afar.

His advice regarding the current public image of the Natchez Police Department would be well worth heeding.

“We are seeing a lack of leadership,” Ferrell said. “Where is the leadership? I’m not just talking about a police chief, but we’ve got a mayor and aldermen and captains.”

Ferrell was talking about not only the city’s public relations efforts — or lack there of — regarding last week’s arrest of two police officers, but the ongoing issues of police salaries and equipment.

As Ferrell pointed out, city leaders should have called an emergency meeting as soon as they heard of the arrests, made a plan for the officers’ employment, reviewed possible problems in the department and announced a clear cut plan to the public.

“Continuing to make excuses, that’s not helping at all. Let’s just shut up and take action and take it forcefully,” Ferrell said.

The indicted officers should have been removed from all contact with the public the minute the city learned the FBI was investigating them, he believes, if not fired outright.

Police Chief Mike Mullins pointed out that Civil Service Commission rules — which govern the department — prevent him from disciplining an officer without cause. Mullins said the police department never received a complaint on the officers.

Mullins has to follow the law, but now that the public relations damage is done, the city’s leadership must focus on moving forward and learning from a bad situation.

Now is the time for the police chief to fight for the dozens of other good employees he has, Ferrell said. And the mayor and board of aldermen must respond.

It’s time to improve morale among officers who are understandably feeling beat up. And the best way to do that is with a good raise brought on by creative thinking, the former sheriff said.

“If we have to cut our strength and sell half our cars, let’s do whatever we have to do to increase the benefits and salaries of officers.

“Quit comparing yourself with other law enforcement agencies. We are Natchez. Make the Natchez Police Department something to be proud of.”

Adams County sheriff deputies’ salaries — approximately $5,000 higher than those at NPD — didn’t get to where they are without effort, Ferrell said. Instead, previous sheriffs, including him, worked to inch the salary up bit by bit over time.

“The most important commodity of a law enforcement agency is its personnel. You’ve got to have personnel that are taken care of. A leader has to fight for the rights of his officers.”

Ferrell’s correct. This issue isn’t good, any way you look at it. But the city hasn’t done its part to make it any better.

Where were the pledges and promises from city leaders in the hours and days after the arrest assuring us that we are in good hands? Couldn’t someone have said, “We are investigating what has transpired at the police department; we feel sure we’ll get the root of any problems, and when we do, they’ll be rectified?”

Like Ferrell said, where is the leadership?

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

News

City receives $1.2 million for emergency bluff stabilization project

News

Update: Suspect in Tuesday morning shooting arrested

News

UPDATE: Missing juvenile found

News

Family searching for missing teen

Business

Natchez trucking company in need of CDL drivers

News

Mississippi to end federal unemployment supplement

News

Two children injured in dirt bike accident when struck by car

News

Victims identified in fatal crash Thursday in Vidalia

News

Katie’s Ladies model celebrates 102nd birthday

News

Dart: Natchez is second home to radio show producer, DJ

News

Trial delayed for Adams County murder suspect

News

One dead, 2 injured in two vehicle wreck in Vidalia

News

CPSB selects two finalists for next superintendent

Business

Atmos Energy replacing gas pipes for some Natchez residents

News

Schools to get $31 million for COVID-19

News

Man sentenced to 40 years Wednesday for killing step-daughter, injuring 3 other relatives

News

Officials working to bring commercial flights to Natchez-Adams Airport

News

Five candidates remaining for next CPSB Superintendent

Business

Furdge appointed to Natchez Convention Promotion Commission

COVID-19

Photo gallery: Clinic gives COVID-19 vaccines to inmates with mobile unit

News

Kiwanis Club giving new life to forgotten bike trail

Business

Grant money available to restaurants, bars from American Rescue Plan Act

BREAKING NEWS

Severe thunderstorm warning issued for Adams County, school dismissal delayed

News

NOAA weather station off air amid onset of thunderstorms in Adams County