Mayor deputizes Adams County Sheriff, deputies, to help enforce city ordinances

Published 12:29 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

NATCHEZ — Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson deputized Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and several of his deputies this morning on the steps of City Hall in an effort to get help from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in policing Natchez city streets.

“It is so important for our community to work together to keep Natchez safe. In that spirit, we are so excited about the relationship that has formed between the City of Natchez and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the working relationship that has formed between our chief, Cal Green, and our sheriff, Travis Patten,” Gibson said.

Gibson chose the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center to make his announcement.

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“In response to recent events, we have chosen to take this action today,” Gibson said.

In addition to city police officers and sheriff’s deputies, the mayor was accompanied on the steps of city hall Monday morning for his press conference by Fire Chief Robert Arrington, who he said was representing first responders; Mayor Pro Tempore and law enforcement committee chairperson, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith; as well as Ricky Banks and David Haywood, owners of Truth Lounge on Franklin Street in Natchez.

“It has been in public conversation and has spilled over in the media that we have had some incidents recently that created a reason for us to have meetings and discussions recently with the owners of Truth Lounge regarding safety measures. This was a very serious matter discussed just two weeks ago at our board of aldermen meeting. I want to commend these two gentlemen for stepping up in a way that all business owners should step up in putting the safety of our community first and their business second,” Gibson said.

At the city’s meeting two weeks ago, City Police Commander Jerry Ford outlined several incidents that happened in parking lots near that nightclub, including a woman who was injured by a man wielding a machete. She was treated and released at an area hospital.

“These two gentlemen have shown great support for our city and a great desire to work with us,” he said.

Gibson said the events happening in Natchez are not unique to the city.

“We have discovered what is happening in certain areas of our city is not just the responsibility nor it is the fault of any one business. It is actually something happening across America where sadly groups of individuals gather without any regard to local ordinances or public safety an human decency,” Gibson said.

He said he was putting together a task force called the Natchez-Adams Safe City Task Force and he deputized the sheriff and the deputies present, which he said means they can now enforce the city’s ordinances.

“It enables the sheriff and the police chief to work jointly to keep our citizens safe and it also by way of my authority as mayor to deputize anyone at any time, will authorize them to enforce the ordinances of Natchez just as if they were wearing the badge of our police department,” the mayor said.

He outlined a number of ordinances he said the members of the task force will enforce, including:

• consuming alcohol in public.

• engaging in loud and boisterous activity in public.

• engaging in the use of profanity in public.

• listening to or playing loud music in public.

• urinating and defecating in public.

• using illegal drugs including marijuana in public.

Gibson also took aim at the city’s go-cup ordinance.

“If you want to have an illegal party, go somewhere else to have it. It will not happen on the streets of Natchez,” he said. “In addition, I want the proper interpretation of our go-cup district. Our go-cup district is just that. It is a to-go cup — a marked, identified to go cup given by a business to a paying customer allowing them to take that beverage within a confined area of Natchez. It is not a party cup district. In fact, unmarked Styrofoam cups are not to be seen or allowed on our streets for the purpose of in taking alcohol.

“If you think bringing a truck with a cooler loaded with ice, beers, bottles and cans and littering our streets leaving it for others to pick up is behavior we are going to tolerate, I have news for you, we are not going to tolerate it,” Gibson said.

Police Chief Cal Green said residents and tourists alike deserve to be comfortable when out and about in the city.

“All the citizens of our city and county deserve the comfort to move about in the evenings without fear of confrontation by undesirable people or people doing things that make others uncomfortable. As of today, that stops,” Green said.

Patten said he welcomes the cooperation.

“We are going to set a new precedent as of today. We love you and we respect you, but take your business inside the clubs or restaurants to celebrate. The loitering in parking lots will no longer be tolerated,” he said.