Now is time to consider consolidating law enforcement

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry will shortly become Columbus’s next chief of police.

We wish him well and thank him for his work in Natchez since taking the police chief’s job here in December 2020.

Mayor Dan Gibson and the city’s board of aldermen now face the arduous task of searching for and hiring a new police chief.

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Now is a good time for our city’s leaders to consider contracting with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement in the city.

For many years, residents have encouraged the city and county to find ways to work together to save taxpayer dollars. In fact, many have advocated finding a way to consolidate city and county government entirely.

Contracting with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement in the city only makes good sense. The city’s residents and the county elect Adams County’s sheriff.

Natchez and Adams County are uniquely positioned to accomplish such a merger, as Natchez is the lone municipality in the county.

The city already contracts with Adams County to house its inmates, and the two agencies cooperate on 911 dispatch services. And the county contracts with the city for fire services outside the city limits.

Combining police forces seems like a good move and would achieve consolidation of efforts residents have long advocated.

Given today’s labor shortage, both agencies have had difficulty recruiting officers and keeping those officers paid at a rate to keep them here and away from other agencies that pay more money. Perhaps with one consolidated agency, officers would benefit economically, as well.

Sheriff Travis Patten and his deputies are highly trained and well respected in the Miss-Lou, state and national law enforcement community.

At a minimum, the city should take the time now to at least explore contracting with the county and the sheriff’s office for law enforcement.