Clifton patrolling Jonesville streets as new chief

Published 12:02 am Friday, December 16, 2011

Rod Guajardo/The Natchez Democrat — Miranda Clifton began her new job as Jonesville Police Chief on Dec. 1. Clifton is a Natchez native who has also worked for the Vidalia Police Department.

JONESVILLE — Few people can say they’ve followed the dream they had since they were 13 years old.

Jonesville Police Department Chief Miranda Clifton can.

Clifton, 44, was named chief of police on Dec. 1 and said unfortunate childhood experiences led her to the law enforcement field.

“I saw the effects of drugs tearing apart the families that were so close to me and that I loved so much,” Clifton said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a police officer for the rest of my life.”

A Natchez native and no stranger to Concordia Parish, Clifton left the Miss-Lou at age 17 with her ex-husband, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world because I wanted to learn about how other people live to broaden my horizons and my view of the world,” Clifton said. “But you can’t raise a child in big cities, so that’s why I came back home.”

After living in Tennessee, New York and Florida, Clifton decided to leave Miami and her ex-husband to start anew in Natchez.

“You can’t trust anyone in these big cities and my child wasn’t getting the nurturing he needed from his family,” Clifton said. “When I came back, I realized how much I missed it.”

Upon returning to the Miss-Lou Clifton met her current husband, Will Clifton, and ended up settling down in Lafayette, La. Eventually the two moved to Jonesville where her husband purchased the local newspaper, The News Booster, from his father.

Just two weeks after having her daughter, Sarah, Clifton began training for the police academy.

Since the academy did not provide room and board, Clifton had to leave every day at 4:30 a.m. for three months to get to the academy in Monroe.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have such great support with my husband and my family,” Clifton said. “My husband never once complained that whole time, and my dream of doing this could not have happened without his support.”

After completing her training, Clifton became the first female road deputy at the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Clifton said she never saw a barrier to break.

“To me, there shouldn’t be a difference between a female officer or a male officer they should just be a law enforcement officer,” Clifton said. “I just looked at it as doing my job.”

Patrolling the streets of Catahoula Parish for five years came to an abrupt end after the death of her father, Lavon Nations.

“He was one of my biggest supporters and that was hard to get over,” Clifton said. “I know now I was in a state of depression, but back then I just looked at it as something I didn’t want to do anymore.”

After a nine-month break from law enforcement, Clifton joined the Jonesville Police Department.

“When it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood,” Clifton said.

Four and a half years later, an opportunity at the Vidalia Police Department arose and Clifton said the offer was too good to pass up.

“I was able to learn so much there,” Clifton said. “It was great to be able to participate in all the training programs and continue learning.”

When the former Jonesville police chief retired last month, Clifton said several people from the community approached her about accepting the position.

“I knew it was a big decision I had to make,” Clifton said.

Dec. 1 marked a special day for Clifton and Jonesville, as she became the first female police chief.

“The recognition has been great and everyone has been very welcoming,” Clifton said.

An increase in public relations with the community was one of Clifton’s first acts as chief of police.

“We can’t do our job without community support, so that was on the top of my list,” Clifton said.

Training and having a fully staffed department is among other short-term goals Clifton has planned for the department.

With almost 11 years of experience, Clifton said she savors every moment of being a law enforcement officer.

“How many other people can say they’ve followed their dream since they were 13 years old?” Clifton said. “It’s a great feeling.”