Natchez mayor creating task force in response to crime concerns
from Staff Reports - NEWS
January 25, 2017 - ListenUpYall.com
By John Mott Coffey
NATCHEZ, Miss – Heightened public concerns about crime has gotten the attention of Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and the Board of Aldermen.
After hearing a Natchez burglary victim’s complaint Tuesday about how Natchez police responded, Grennell said he’s creating a task force to develop new ways for curbing the city’s overall crime problem.
“I can assure you we’re going to be on top of this,” the mayor said.
Jessica Stubbs said a burglar broke into her downtown home while she was there. She called the Natchez Police Department, she said, but the responding officer declined to write a report of the incident. Stubbs was told she had to wait and visit the NPD herself later to press charges. She also complained that too many criminals are released from jail without being sufficiently punished.
She said she knows other Natchez residents with similar complaints about police responses to crime.
“This is clearly a cause of fear in our community,” Stubbs told Grennell and the aldermen.
Natchez Police Chief Danny White said an NPD officer should not have told Stubbs she had to wait to file formal charges against the alleged burglar.
Natchez Alderman Billie Joe Frazier – a former Natchez policeman – acknowledged the NPD has many new officers who need more training to perform their duties. He said the department struggles to attract and retain competent officers because their salaries are so low.
“These guys need a pay raise, … but there’s no reason for them not to do their job,” Frazier said.
He and other aldermen said they’ll address the public’s concerns about the NPD and crime. While Frazier said Natchez has “a good police department,” changes are needed “to straighten it out.”
“I’m not going to let the police department fall,” he said.
White said the NPD is stretched thin with only 1 officer on duty per 1,000 people per shift in Natchez. He urged the creation of more neighborhood watch groups to provide “eyes and ears” to help police combat crime.
There have been three murders in Adams County since December 30.
The Board of Aldermen earlier this month delayed a decision on whether to hire three more police officers. White requested the addition for the 39-officer force he now has on the streets. It’s uncertain if the city has the money for them.
It currently cost about $37,300 a year to pay a new Natchez police officer his salary and fringe benefits, according to City Clerk Melissa Hawk.