Natchez chief hosts law enforcement roundtable
Published 9:00 am Friday, June 24, 2022
BY MAIA BRONFMAN
NATCHEZ – “Crime doesn’t have boundaries,” said Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry at the Chiefs and Sheriffs round table on Thursday morning at the Natchez Convention Center. FBI Special Agent, Jermicha L. Fomby sat alongside Daughtry as the group discussed impediments and solutions to modern law enforcement in multiple jurisdictions.
Daughtry, who was recently inducted as president of the state’s association of chiefs of police, hosted the event at which officials from the Vicksburg Police Department, Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office, the McComb Police Department, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office, the Natchez School District, the Adams County District Attorney’s office and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office were in attendance.
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One officer asked about resources for dealing with mentally ill people. He said business owners expect the police to deal with any public presence of mental illness, but the police have insufficient methods and resources for addressing those concerns.
“Mental illness is not a crime, but the community expects us to do something,” said Daughtry, echoing the officer’s frustration. “God forbid we use force, and then we’re scrutinized.”
“Your hands, our hands are tied,” said Fomby. There are some officers who are trained specifically to deal with mental health issues, but they’re not widely available.
Daughtry proposed an idea, that the families of the mentally ill be trained specifically. “Maybe we would cut off benefits until they take the training,” Daughtry said.
Other law enforcement personnel spoke to Fomby about other issues and specific training they wanted.
One officer asked for a wider partnership between Homeland Security, the FBI and local law enforcement to address school shootings. He wanted money and training, and potential legal recourse to charge offenders that were underage.
Fomby said there were cases where a minor committed a particularly egregious crime and thus was charged as an adult, but that’s on a case-by-case basis.
Other officers asked for investigative and crime scene processing training. Financial and internet crime investigations, one officer said, need to be combined. In a world of cryptocurrency, the interconnection of financial and internet crime is pertinent, Fomby agreed.
The insufficient financial and internet criminal investigation overlap coincides with lack of jurisdictional data overlap.
“If we learn to operate across boundaries, it would be a great investigative tool,” said Luke Thompson, former Byram City Police Chief and current director of Application Data Systems Inc.
ADSi is a data sharing software which allows jurisdictions to selectively share data and reports. They might allow access, to the jurisdictions within the software network, to warrant or traffic violation information. Other information, like investigative narratives on public officials or information on minors, they could choose to keep private, said Thompson.
Thompson offered the enforcement officials from various jurisdictions at the roundtable a free service in which his company would, in partnership with the FBI, connect his ADSi software to a national data-exchange software called N-DEx.
N-DEx operates similarly to ADSi, but is run by the FBI on a larger scale. Appending the N-DEx software onto the ADSi software, which already exists in many state-wide jurisdictions, would mean lots of red tape, Thompson said.
Because it is a selective system of data sharing, the administrative officials for each jurisdiction wanting to join would have to carefully and thoroughly set up mechanisms so that the software could algorithmically separate the data they want kept private, and the data they want shared with the jurisdictions in the network.
“Crime is going a different path,” said Daughtry, “and we are trying to handle it before it gets out of control.”