Why ACSO works Alcorn State games

Published 12:02 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

We have been helping provide security at Alcorn State University football games since the 1980s.

Alcorn State University is a huge  partner/investor in our community and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

As you know, they have a campus here, the Alcorn Incubator and the Alcorn Extension Services.

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That’s not counting the number of staff they employ from our community, the number of students they continue to educate and the number graduates they produce who choose to live or work in Natchez.

Needless to say, their economic footprint is huge here. When they ask for assistance, just as they have done, we provide it.

This is not an uncommon practice for the surrounding law enforcement agencies to provide the much-needed security during these games at major universities.

A typical game can cause an additional 20,000 to 30,000 people to descend on a college campus at one time; overwhelming campus police in the process. 

Alcorn State has relied on help in the past and still does from the following agencies: The Mississippi Highway Patrol, Vicksburg Police Department, Natchez Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff Office, Fayette Police Department, Adams County Sheriff’s Office and numerous security guard agencies from Natchez and Vicksburg because the need for safety is so great.

Some of these agencies used marked and/or unmarked vehicles.

Non-law enforcement personnel may not be aware of it, but college campuses all over America have been labeled soft targets of recent active shooter incidents.

Alcorn State’s Chief of Police asked if we could start allowing marked vehicles to be brought rather than unmarked vehicles in an attempt to prevent such an incident from happening on their campus.

Seeing the need, we agreed to do so. Just on Dec. 13 alone, there were over 100 bomb threats nationally and another school shooting.

Statewide, Homeland Security is training personnel from all over the United States to respond to such incidents and ACSO is in that number.

If an active shooter incident happened on Alcorn State’s Campus, we along with other surrounding agencies would respond. Look at when Natchez High School reported a possible active shooter. We had calls from Washington, D.C., and law enforcement officer’s from as far as 150 miles away responded to the incident.

As you can clearly see, the need to help our neighboring communities is great and there is a great sense of urgency from law enforcement all  over to do so. You train how you plan to fight and that’s a big part of what we are getting ahead of the curve on.

As you also know, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office proudly supports all Schools: Trinity (when it was open), Natchez Adams School District, ACCS, Cathedral, Co-Lin, Alcorn State University and some home schools.

You will more than likely see a deputy at every game and every school because we care. The officers work independently with these schools when you see them at football games or escorting buses.

I allow this because I want our children and young adults to be safe wherever they go while in school custody. There have been times in the past where buses have been vandalized and shots have been fired after heated games. I want our people protected and feeling safe knowing they have someone from home, who is willing to give their life to protect theirs.

Natchez Adams School District is the only school that the county has a contract with  and that’s for the two school resource officers that we have at two of the schools. Every other school contract is directly with the officer,  with my blessing and the board’s approval because safety is No. 1 for us and should be for everyone else.

Alcorn State is no different; we are only there for the home games, and we don’t travel with the school. When they call for assistance, we are proud to help. What we do for them is small in comparison to what they do for us and this community.

At the end of the day, I am concerned with the welfare of our children and young adults. If their lives are not worth two gallons of gas, then we have a serious issue in our community that needs to be addressed.

Travis Patten is sheriff of Adams County.