Natchez police chief interviewed on Fox News show

Published 12:15 am Tuesday, October 9, 2018


NATCHEZ — Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong was featured Monday morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” show.

In the segment, Fox News’ Ed Henry interviewed Armstrong about a Friday night halftime performance by Forest Hill High School band during a game at Brookhaven High School.

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During the halftime performance, Forest Hill band members dressed as doctors and nurses, pulled out fake AR-15-style rifles and pretended to hold at gunpoint other band members who were dressed as SWAT team and law enforcement members.

The halftime show came within 48 hours of burial services for two Brookhaven Police officers who were killed in the line of duty.

“We are baffled at why someone would think that it is OK to allow children to be armed with AR-15s, and although they are fake weapons, to hold law enforcement at bay,” Armstrong  told Henry.

Armstrong, who was being interviewed by Fox News in his capacity as president of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, told Fox News the association had been inundated with calls from all over the state following the halftime show.

“We are very outraged, and that was a very distasteful performance that played out on the football field,” Armstrong told Henry.

“While we support our youth, and we support those students, you would think someone that was in charge of those students would have known better,” Armstrong said. “We are very saddened because it happened within 48 hours of the burial of two local officers in that city, and it could not have happened at a worst time.”

Armstrong said he hopes it was a teachable moment, not only for the students, but also for leaders of the high school.

Henry read a statement from the superintendent of the Jackson public schools, Errick L. Greene, Ph.D..

“On behalf of the Jackson Public School District,” Greene’s statement reads, “I want to offer my deep and sincere apologies for the performance of the Forest Hill High School Band … JPS has a great deal of respect and appreciation for our law enforcement partners. The band’s performance does not depict the values and people in our community… We sincerely apologize to all, and we pledge to do better in the future.”

Armstrong acknowledged the Jackson Public School District’s apology and swift action in admonishing the band director and placing that person on leave.

Armstrong is in Orlando, Florida, this week for the International Association of Chiefs of Police Convention, from where he conducted the interview and said he received much positive feedback on his “Fox and Friends” appearance from his peers at the convention.

“Everybody I heard from, and you don’t usually hear the bad, was all good from around the state, as well as several members here with thousands of lawmen from across the nations,” Armstrong said Monday afternoon. “They felt like a statement needed to be made.”

Armstrong said he is concerned the children may have gotten the wrong message from their leaders.

“It never should’ve happened,” Armstrong said. “I hope it is teachable moment. They erred on the side of poor judgment.”