Statewide police chiefs gather for conference in Natchez

Published 12:09 am Friday, December 14, 2018


NATCHEZ — Police chiefs from at least 80 different police departments throughout Mississippi are gathered in the Natchez Convention Center this week for the annual Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police Winter Conference.

The conference, which started Tuesday at 8 a.m. and lasts until noon today, is a training ground and networking venue for chiefs statewide, said Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong, who also is the President of the MACP executive board.

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“We hear from a wide range of speakers,” Armstrong said. “We have chiefs here from as far away as Olive Branch, Mississippi, to the Coast and everywhere in between. … It doesn’t matter if you’re from a small department or a large one. The conference is open to everyone. … It’s a way for us to meet with one another and share ideas, and it’s very great for coordinating with other departments from across the state.”

Armstrong said the association holds two conferences each year, with the summer conference almost always being held in Biloxi.

The winter conference is a little more flexible, and members of the MACP executive board are able to place a bid to host the next conference, Armstrong said and Natchez was chosen this year.

Ken Winter, the executive director of the MACP, said the conference gives chiefs the opportunity to earn mandatory training hours as well as exposes them to the latest tools and technology to carry out their daily jobs.

“We combine training sessions with exhibits or trade shows, so vendors can come in and display the latest technology, equipment and safety supplies,” Winter said. “This is (the chiefs) way to get exposed to that. At the same time, the training is always different at each conference … so the chiefs get a two-for-one deal.”

Winter said one of Thursday’s training sessions was about detecting deception through statement analysis.

“Even though police chiefs are in an administrative role, a lot of them wear two hats,” Winter said. “A lot of them still do investigative work in their departments as well.

Luke Thompson, first vice president of the MACP executive board and Chief of Police in Byram, said he led a training session Tuesday afternoon about leadership and the importance of communication.

Thompson said intermingling with fellow chiefs at the conference is important for the sake of leadership morale as well as getting help in a crisis.

“The average police department has anywhere from 10 to 13 officers,” Thompson said. “If a large scale incident such as, God forbid, a school shooting happens near an agency with 10 to 13 officers, they need tremendous amounts of resources for that. When police chiefs connect here, they swap cards and cell phone numbers. From where I am in Byram, when the police chief at Terry, Mississippi — who doesn’t have a full-time officer — calls and needs help, we go.”