Natchez interviews 4 candidates for police chief

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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NATCHEZ — Natchez officials interviewed four finalists for Natchez Police Chief during Tuesday’s regularly schedule meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Alderman.

Officials voted to go into executive session for the purpose of interviewing the applicants for police chief as a personnel matter and therefore was not open to the public.

Before going into executive session, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said a total of 36 applications had been vetted to fill the vacancy being left after Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong announced in August that he planned to retire by Jan. 1 after approximately 37 years in law enforcement.

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The board’s civil service committee and the city’s police committee narrowed the search down to four finalists, Gibson said.

Alderman Billie Joe Frazier said he had reservations about how the finalists for police chief had been chosen before the matter came before the entire Board of Aldermen.

Fraizer said he believed the board should have been able to interview seven of the 36 applicants that were selected as finalists by the civil service committee before the police committee narrowed the selection down to four applicants.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the seven applicants chosen by the civil service committee were interviewed by the police committee after a special-called meeting Friday.

Gibson said the same selection process was used in choosing a fire chief last week, and that Frazier was a member of the fire chief selection committee.

“You all already know who you want for police chief,” Fraizer said, talking over Gibson. “You are manipulating the system.”

Gibson cut Frazier’s complaint off and said he was “out of order” before the board moved to go into executive session at approximately 2 p.m.

The board came back out of executive session at approximately 6 p.m.

Gibson said Aldermen Valencia Hall, Sarah Carter-Smith, Felicia Irving and Dan Dillard all attended the executive session meeting in-person and Alderman Ben Davis attended via teleconference call. Alderman Frazier apparently left before the executive session meeting took place, Gibson said, adding no actions were taken.