A safe city: We are making progress
Published 7:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2022
One of the major planks of my platform when I ran for Mayor two years ago was “To Build a Safer City.” For any city to succeed, fighting and preventing crime must be a top priority, and in Natchez it truly is.
What a pleasure it was to be present as our city received the Mississippi Municipal League’s top law enforcement award last week, the “Municipal Excellence Award in Public Safety” in cities with more than 10,000 people. Out of Mississippi’s 299 cities and towns, Natchez was highlighted for our success in getting illegal guns off the street. Thanks to the hard work of our city’s new VIPER Unit, Violent Immediate Police Emergency Response, and proactive enforcement of the law, gone are the days where individuals can stockpile illegal weapons and expect to get away with it.
Of course no program is perfect, but in Natchez we are well on our way. Working together with our newly reinstituted SWAT Team, our VIPER Unit has been hard at work, often times on duty when most of us are asleep. I will never forget a night in February when I received word from our Chief of Police Joseph Daughtry that these two teams, working well into the night to apprehend suspects in a violent crime, had not only made the arrests but confiscated various weapons, including assault rifles. I am sure the memory of our highly-trained officers descending upon a den of criminals and busting up their gang of violence will long be remembered.
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Actions like this send a message. And in Natchez, the message is this, as our Police Chief often says: “We don’t play.” Old fashioned policing is working. This is especially true when it comes to solving crime. Gone are the days of cases remaining open and unworked for months, even years. When I first took office, I was constantly being asked to meet with mothers and other family members of victims of violent crimes that had never been solved, many of these going back several years. We prayed together, even cried together, and I vowed then that we would not rest until this changed.
I am very grateful for the leadership brought to us by Chief Daughtry and his dedicated team of men and women who now make solving crime, and preventing crime, their top priority. These cold cases are now being solved, and the offenders are going to jail. Just last week, one of these grieving mothers reached out to say thanks for all Natchez has been doing to stop the crime. One thing she said really stood out: “At one time, I didn’t think there was any help for us as grieving parents and families… but now everyone is seeing the progress.”
In just a few weeks, when I provide various updates in our 2nd Annual State of the City event, I will share statistics on where we are with regard to crime, the progress we have made, and all we still need to accomplish. It’s hard to predict when and where crime will occur, but in Natchez we will not rest until all of our citizens feel safe. Because Natchez Deserves More.
Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.