“A HISTORIC MOMENT”: Mississippi town names first female police chief

Published 5:48 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023

A Mississippi town steeped in history and tradition added another momentous chapter to its 300-hundred-year story.

Cal Green dropped the word “interim” ahead of her title and became the city’s first official female police chief.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen passed a motion to promote Green from Interim Police Chief to Police Chief by a vote of 5-1 during Tuesday’s meeting.

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Alderman Billie Joe Frazier cast the lone “nay” vote, not because he objected to Green being the police chief but because he disagreed with the process officials used to promote her, he said.

After former Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry resigned in December, some aldermen discussed their desire to promote the next police chief from within the department.

City officials only offered the opportunity to interview for the Interim Police Chief role to the department’s highest-ranking officers with at least 20 years of experience in the field and at least three years of administrative experience.

Only four police officers at the department fit that description, including Green, Justin Jones, Jerry Ford, and Ben Hewitt. Hewitt told city officials he didn’t want the job, which left the other three candidates to interview for it. After these interviews, on Dec. 6 Green was promoted with a 3-3 tie vote and Mayor Dan Gibson broke the tie in favor of Green becoming the interim chief.

On March 6, Green would have completed three months as Interim Chief and the city had until then to name a permanent chief, Gibson said.

Last week, officials approved a job description that would only allow the four eligible for the Interim Chief role to apply for the permanent position.

“Just about an hour ago, I had a very good discussion with Mr. Dante Ware, the chairman of our Civil Service Commission, and we discussed the position of the police chief,” Gibson said. “Yesterday ended the five days we’ve posted the position and yesterday the Department of Human Resources received confirmation from three ranking officers that they did not desire to pursue the position of police chief, leaving only one candidate … our Interim Chief Cal Green. The Civil Service Commission has met and recommended the appointment of Chief Green to be our new chief. Also, one of the candidates who declined to apply for the position, Commander Jerry Ford, gave a very supportive statement endorsing the appointment of Cal Green.”

Frazier said the candidates who were already interviewed for the interim position would feel as though the city had already decided who would be the chief based on their previous choice of Green for Interim Chief.

“If I was one of them, I don’t think I would apply for the job either because, in all honesty, they already know they are not going to get the job,” he said. “I don’t like the way this process was done.”

Green was sworn in as the Natchez Police Chief during the meeting, making her the first female chief the department has ever had.

“On the last day of Black History Month,” Alderwoman Felicia Irving pointed out.

“This is a historic moment,” Gibson added.