‘I hope we live up to your expectations’: Green sworn in at police chief’s conference

Published 10:42 am Friday, December 16, 2022

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NATCHEZ — History was made, both in Natchez and in the State of Mississippi at the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police winter conference at the Natchez Convention Center on Tuesday.

The entire conference, with right at 100 people attending from departments statewide, witnessed the swearing-in of Natchez’s first female Interim Police Chief and highest-ranking female officer to ever serve the department.

Other female police chiefs in Mississippi stood behind Caroline “Cal” Green as she took her oath and received her chief’s badge. While she is not the first female chief in Mississippi, she is the first chief ever to be sworn in during the conference, Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said.

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“I spoke with our director, (Kevin Winter) to confirm it,” said Daughtry, who is the president of the association. “He said some are no longer chiefs when the conference ends, but none have become chiefs while they were here.”

After her swearing-in, Green introduced her command staff and invited them to stand up with her, Commanders Jerry Ford, Justin Jones and Ben Hewitt.

“This is my team and I hope we live up to your expectations,” she said.

The Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police has two conferences every year as both a training ground and networking venue for chiefs statewide. The last one held in Natchez was in December 2018 when former Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong was president of the association, Winter said.

Beginning Tuesday and lasting through Friday, the conference will cover a plethora of speaking topics useful to administrative police officers throughout Mississippi, including human trafficking, constitutional auditors, officer-involved shootings, and a case study presented by FBI representatives, Winter said.

New state law requires all officer-involved shootings to be investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and then be turned over to the Attorney General’s office to present to a grand jury, rather than being investigated by local sheriff’s offices.

This has contributed to a backlog of more than 20 officer-involved shooting cases at the state level and a problem for small departments that have to keep the officer on administrative leave until the case is closed, he said.

Natchez Police Department has one officer-involved shooting case from a July 18 incident that is also pending a resolution with state investigators. A woman with a knife was reportedly sustained a gunshot wound when police officers responded to a home near Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr. streets. The officer’s name or other details were not released.

Among Tuesday’s speakers was Sandy Middleton, Executive Director of The Center for Violence Prevention in Jackson to speak about human trafficking, another issue that has come up recently in the Miss-Lou. Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office recently arrested a seventh suspect in an ongoing probe of a human trafficking network involving juveniles who were drugged and taken to locations in Adams County in Concordia Parish and sexually exploited in exchange for narcotics.

“CPSO has worked closely with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and additional charges are likely regarding suspects in Mississippi,” law officials said.

The Center for Violence Prevention is the only long-term shelter specializing in trafficking in the State of Mississippi. They employ rapid response advocates who are in the field to help meet the needs of victims and act as part of a task force to combat trafficking with investigators, Middleton said.

“That is an excellent example of what good collaboration looks like when you’ve got trained investigators pulling together and comparing information and cases, locating victims, and have advocates to come alongside and help the victims,” Middleton said of the recent changes made in the human trafficking case. “Right here, you’ve got a great example of what a good task force looks like even though they’re not formally called that.”