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Natchez police chief officially retires

 

NATCHEZ — Natchez Police Chief Daniel White submitted his retirement papers Monday, ending his nearly five-year tenure less than a week after the board of aldermen discussed terminating him.

Mayor Darryl Grennell said White attended Monday morning’s department head meeting and informed Grennell he would be retiring. White then submitted his retirement papers to the city’s human resources department.

White’s retirement will be effective May 31, but he will be on vacation for the remainder of his time in office, Grennell said.

“I want to say that I appreciate Chief White for all his years of service in law enforcement to the city,” Grennell said.

White had said Friday that he planned to retire, amid questions of his competency as chief along with potential state law violations regarding his son’s employment at the police department.

His announcement Friday came a day after a motion was made to terminate White at a specially called Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting last Thursday. The board ultimately decided to defer action on the matter until its regularly scheduled meeting today. The motion was made by Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, chair of the city’s police committee, who cited concerns about a lack of discipline and ongoing issues at the department.

White and the police department have faced increased scrutiny in recent months following a series of robberies, burglaries and other crimes that led to public complaints from residents at recent aldermen meetings. White said most of those cases have been solved, and the department is working diligently to solve the other cases.

Ethical questions were recently raised about the employment of White’s son Devin White at the department and possible conflicts with state law that prohibits nepotism.

Grennell said in March that he had met with White regarding the matter, and White had indicated he would be retiring, thus resolving the conflict. Grennell said last week he had met with White multiple times in an effort to pinpoint White’s retirement date, but White never committed to a date.

When asked Friday about his son remaining employed at the department, White first said, as he contended in March, that aldermen had approved his son’s hiring. After further questions about conflicts with state law, White said he would be retiring, because “Devin is my son.” White further elaborated that he did not want his employment to interfere with Devin’s opportunity to be a Natchez police officer.

Last month, Mississippi Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Hood has said he could not comment on the specific situation regarding the chief and his son.

The ethics commission has, however, issued advisory opinions on similar situations.

In a 2013 advisory opinion (No. 12-114-E), the ethics commission concluded that the son of a fire department employee could not remain employed by the same fire department if his father was promoted to chief.

“A public servant may not use his position to obtain any pecuniary benefit for his or her relative, as prohibited in Section 25-4-105(1), Miss. Code of 1972,” the opinion states. “Due to the potential for a violation of this section and the policy codified in Section 25-4-101, the employee should resign if his father is selected as fire chief.”

White could not be reached for comment Monday.

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