Truth Lounge owners and city want safe streets, business

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, October 24, 2023

I am writing this Top of the Morning to elaborate more on the decision to pull deputies from working nightclubs.

I want to be clear it is not because of personal reasons against the Truth Lounge or its owners.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten

In the past, we did not allow deputies to work clubs in uniform or while using Sheriff’s Office equipment but we did allow them to work lounges because they have tended to be more of a relaxed crowd with low numbers.

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The public may not know that our starting salaries for ACSO deputies are one of the lowest in the state for an agency our size. We currently start out $3,000 less a year than the Natchez Police Department and that number will increase to $7,000 less than NPD once the new budget for the city kicks in next year.

ACSO staff were promised a raise this year by the board of supervisors, but that was put on hold due to the county’s current financial situation. The Sheriff’s Office Budget was cut drastically.

We have gone from having 78 employees (including myself) to 65. State agencies such as the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi Department of Corrections have increased their starting salaries. This in return has started to pull on officers who can make more money while living in the same communities they were raised in.

With the cost of living steadily rising and pay for deputies remaining the same, I allowed deputies to begin working in lounges to offset their cost of living.

As of today, we currently have four open slots at the Sheriff’s Office. We have three open slots on patrol and one open slot in our Special Operations Group. My decision to pull officers from the lounge was based on the needs of the Sheriff’s Office.

The lounge paid off duty officers very well, but if one of the officers were to get hurt, it would set off a series of events that would be detrimental to their careers. If an officer were to get hurt while we are already short staffed, it would put ACSO in a bind so I had to put ACSO’s priorities first.

This is why I made the decision to pull them from all lounges. I don’t want the public or owners of Truth Lounge to feel as though we are targeting Truth Lounge.

Therefore, no ACSO uniforms or equipment will be used to work off duty details at any lounges or clubs period.

The Safe Streets Task Force was formed to enforce the same set of rules on all the clubs and lounges alike, not just the Truth Lounge, and that is what was being done.

If more attention was given to one over the other, that would only be because situations dictated it. Since I understand the personal needs of my deputies and their financial situations, I will allow them, if they choose to, to work off-duty for security companies as security guards.

At the end of the day, I do believe that the mayor wants what’s best for the city and the owners of Truth Lounge want what is best for them as business owners and the patrons they serve. The fight brought some issues to light that certainly need to be addressed with all clubs, bars, lounges, etc.

I am glad that certain security measures were in place on that day because it kept weapons from being involved. If weapons had been involved, we would be having a totally different conversation but they weren’t and I am glad about it.

If you own a lounge or club that serves alcohol, your chances of having a fight are increased greatly. I believe whatever ordinances are put in place by the city should apply to everyone and knowing the Mayor, I believe they will be.

I also believe the owners want to run a respectable establishment that is safe for anyone who chooses to enter. Hopefully, a solution is reached that is safe, fair, and effective for all parties involved.

Travis Patten is Sheriff of Adams County.