City should consider appointing Adams County sheriff in interim position

Published 12:17 am Sunday, May 7, 2017

Friday’s news that Natchez Police Chief Daniel White plans to retire Monday gives the City of Natchez a unique opportunity to make a fundamental change in direction with the police force.

Rather than merely following standard practice and quickly appointing an interim chief — likely from within the department’s own ranks — we urge city leaders to consider appointing Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten as the interim leader of the police department.

Patten is in a unique position as the person responsible for all law enforcement matters in the county. He has worked for the Natchez police department and likely knows its problems.

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If the city were to give Patten 60 to 90 days to assess the situation at the police department and free rein to control the department as he sees fit, great things may come out of it. Staff morale may improve and more importantly, crime fighting may improve.

Simultaneously the city and county should commit their financial personnel to study exactly what might be saved if the police were simply folded into a larger sheriff’s office.

The savings likely are tremendous. In addition to the police chief’s position, much duplication occurs between the two agencies. Each currently staffs a separate, 24-7 jail facility, when it seems one single facility would be more efficient.

Saved resources could go toward better pay, better equipment and better training for the law enforcement officers. In the end, a single, combined crime-fighting effort makes all the sense in the world and the city has a great opportunity to move in that direction Monday.