Badges, guns should be for city use

Published 1:52 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

Should Natchez police officers wear their uniforms and taxpayer purchased weapons while working private, security jobs?

City aldermen mulled the question recently, and it’s a good question to consider.

Interim Natchez Police Chief Shawn T. King brought up the matter asking the city to consider creating an indemnity policy to try and clearly separate any liability for the city should an off-duty officer’s action cause some kind of litigation.

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King’s question is a valid one, apparently one that had not been considered recently.

City attorney Bob Latham suggested that such a clause already exists in state statute, thus he believed no action was necessary.

Perhaps that is the case, but the discussion led to a question of appearance.

Alderwoman Sarah Smith and Alderman Dan Dillard both said they believed it would be best if off-duty officers did not wear city uniforms and badges on most instances when not on duty.

That seems logical and sound to us. We further suggest taxpayer-issued service weapons — firearms and Tasers — should also not be used outside of official duty.

That makes sense to us, but apparently all of that needs to be discussed and spelled out in a clear policy.

The goal here is not to shortchange officers who are practically forced to work side jobs given the low pay they receive, but to simply avoid potential problems should something go wrong.

Just like most taxpayers would frown upon an off-duty police officer driving a patrol car to grocery shop, the same rule of common sense should apply. City property and city branding — uniforms and badges, for example — should be reserved for city use.