Columbus names Daughtry its next police chief

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2022

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NATCHEZ — Natchez’s Police Chief Joseph Daughtry has been named the next police chief for the City of Columbus.

Not unlike Natchez, Columbus is a historic river city located on the banks of the Tombigbee River on the Eastern border of Mississippi. It serves as the county seat of Lowndes County with a population of more than 23,000 people.

Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin said the city did a national search that began when former chief Fred Shelton announced he would retire on Aug. 15.

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The search committee made up of professionals with law enforcement experience and city council members narrowed down a pool of more than 70 applicants, Gaskin said.

“We were very impressed with the pool,” he said.

The three finalists interviewed over the last two weeks were Daughtry and retired Chattanooga Assistant Chief Russell Jason Irvin and Wayne D. Hudson, a sheriff’s deputy of Douglas County, Nebraska.

“We thought any of the three could come to Columbus and do a great job,” he said, adding the City Council ultimately chose Daughtry as, “much of his experience lines up with areas we’d like to focus on.”

Things that stood out in the interview process were his focus on “community policing and also his background with grants and his leadership roles in Natchez and Pelahatchie and with sheriff’s offices in the state of Mississippi.

“We were looking for someone who could build a relationship with our sheriff’s department and we felt that he was the right person,” Gaskins said. “He has great communication skills and he expresses a desire to be a chief who is out and about in the community building relationships with the police department and citizens. It is not easy to be in law enforcement in today’s society. Difficulty with recruiting and retention is something we’ve had within the City of Columbus. Building morale within the department and being a leader that officers can count on to be out in the community with them. Those are things that stood out to us.”

Gaskin said Daughtry was hired with an annual salary of $100,000. His official start date has not been determined.

“We want to give him the professional courtesy that he needs for the City of Natchez,” Gaskin said. “We’d like to have him start tomorrow if we could but we know it takes some time to transition.”

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said while he is disappointed to say goodbye to Daughtry, he looks forward to what the future holds for the City of Natchez.

“Mayor Keith Gaskin was kind enough to reach out to us and I consider him a friend,” Gibson said. “We are very grateful for all that (Daughtry) has done. He has set us on a great path forward. We wish him well and we’re going to continue moving forward. We’ve accomplished much over the last two years and there is still much to be done.”

Gibson added he expects the search for Daughtry’s replacement to begin immediately.

“We look forward to a great future. Obviously, that future will require new leadership. Chief Daughtry has offered to assist us through the end of the year,” Gibson said. “I expect a search to begin immediately and we will see what the future holds.”