Natchez set for state chiefs’ meeting

Published 12:17 am Friday, December 15, 2017

NATCHEZ — A year from now, Natchez will be the gathering place for more than 100 police chiefs from all across the state at the annual Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police winter conference.

Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong, who will be elevated from first vice president to president in June, said the city would host the conference next December for the first time in more than a decade.

“We’re very proud of being able to host this conference of law enforcement officers in the City of Natchez, being able to showcase the City of Natchez and giving officers the opportunity to learn about our city,” Armstrong said.

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Armstrong said the weeklong winter conference averages just more than 100 chiefs and attendees would range from large departments — such as Biloxi and Gulfport — to smaller operations consisting of only two or three officers.

Natchez Police Capt. Tom McGehee announced that the 2018 conference was coming to town at Tuesday’s Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting, leading to a spontaneous round of applause from those in attendance.

“It’s heads on beds and it’s an all-week event,” McGehee said during his presentation.

The “heads on beds” tax is a $2 occupancy fee paid by hotel and bed-and-breakfast patrons. The money goes toward city tourism marketing.

McGehee said many chiefs are likely to bring spouses along for the conference.

Armstrong said the conference would not only benefit the city from an economic standpoint, but would also provide an opportunity to develop the police force and learn about updated policing practices.

“This is an annual training (opportunity) for our chiefs from across the state,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said examples of the topics covered at these conferences range from preventing police brutality to utilizing social media.

Whereas the association traditionally holds its annual summer conference on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Armstrong said, the winter conference occurs in various areas across the state.