INTERIM POLICE CHIEF: Manpower, community engagement top concerns of Natchez department

Published 3:55 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Natchez’s new and first female interim chief of the Natchez Police Department updated Natchez Rotarians about departmental affairs and concerns during their Wednesday luncheon — her top concerns being manpower and community engagement.

Interim Police Chief Cal Green has 25 years of policing experience, including 13 years on patrol and 12 years of administrative and management experience. She started her law enforcement tenure at Natchez Police Department in 1997 and accepted a position at Adams County Sheriff’s Office in 2004. In 2021, she moved back to Natchez Police Department as commander of community and support services. She is also a certified DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) instructor and more recently certified with command training from the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

She rejoined NPD during former chief Joseph Daughtry’s administration to “further community relations and rebuild the trust in the department that had been lost over the years,” she said.

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Green was named Interim Chief in December when Daughtry announced he accepted a new police chief position in Columbus.

Since becoming chief, Green said NPD has been working hard to correct “internal issues” and establish a new vision for the department.

“Our people are on board with the vision and that vision is that our department is a service,” she said. “We are there to serve the public, not police the public. … When they feel there is no other recourse they can take, we’re supposed to be the people they can come to in order to help them resolve any issues they have.”

Green also aims to “heal the age-old rivalry” between Natchez Police and surrounding agencies, she said.

“In this day and age, it can no longer be us and them. It takes all of us to look out for every person in the community,” she said.

Green said the main area NPD is lacking in is manpower. Older generations at the department have tired out and left younger, newer officers to train themselves, she said.

“One of our commanders did a study on our department and the average age is 24,” she said. “There are not a whole lot of people who want to do this job and get paid what we get paid, which isn’t a whole lot. But, we do it because we love it and because we believe in what we’re doing.”

Green said NPD is running four- to five-man shifts with 12 vacant positions in the department.

“In a perfect world, we’d have at least eight officers per shift,” she said. “Right now, our biggest problem is recruitment and retention. Baton Rouge pays a $15,000 sign-on bonus. Same thing with Jackson Police Department. These are areas within driving distance and we pay our guys $18 per hour. It’s difficult to get people to come into this profession, but it’s easier to get the people who live here and have grown up here. They have more loyalty to this community.”

Green said with so many young officers, it’s her responsibility to make sure that they are trained in what they’re supposed to be doing and “have the heart to do it.”

“Training, knowledge and education are key. The more you know the more you’re able to help those around you,” she said.

Another concern of hers is community engagement. Green said she would like to resurrect a citizen’s police academy and do more things that involve children.

“I believe that the more involved the community is in their police department the better the relationships can be,” she said, adding crime in the community is “not a police department problem but a Natchez and Adams County problem. … I read a proverb that says, ‘The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.’ We’ve got to do more things that will involve our children in positive ways.”

Other things Green said she would like to do to improve the department is share cases with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, install more crime cameras and — taking inspiration from Concordia Parish’s cybercrime investigations unit — Natchez Police Department is looking into a program called “Oxygen Forensics” that can be used to dump data from seized devices, including files that were previously deleted.

The FBI will adopt cases that involve firearms, be they gun violence or possession of stolen firearms, she said.

“When you’re prosecuted and sentenced federally, you don’t get time off for good behavior,” Green said. “When you’re sentenced to 20 years you get 20 years.”

Additional Project NOLA cameras, which are monitored by a real-time crime center, would help tremendously with solving cases as they have already, she said.

“We have used those cameras to solve a lot of cases. We’re supposed to be meeting with Project NOLA pretty soon to put up cameras in more places that were missed the first go-round to cover more areas and give us that added edge.”