New police chief has big plans for the Vicksburg Police Department

Published 9:16 am Friday, July 14, 2017

For Police Chief Milton Moore, the word is visibility.

“We’ve got to be seen,” he said as he discussed his immediate plans for the Vicksburg Police Department and the implementation of a community policing program. It’s a plan that includes reintroducing the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, putting officers on bicycles, and getting officers out of their cars and on foot in neighborhoods meeting residents.

“The plan is to have them walking around to meet the people in the neighborhoods and find out their concerns,” he said.

Moore was appointed Vicksburg’s police chief July 5, putting him over a department of 62 people; an appointment he called “exciting, scary, and it’s humbling. It’s exciting and scary at the exact same time, but it’s a big responsibility. I’ve got so many people depending on me and the buck stops here.”

“I was surprised and honored that the mayor entrusted the department to me; it’s a great feeling that the mayor and the Board of Aldermen have such faith in me.

“I’m going to try and build on the success that he (former Chief Walter Armstrong) built here,” he said. “He was very firm, and I learned a lot from him, so hopefully, we can keep building.”

A native of Vicksburg, Moore is a graduate of Vicksburg High School who spent time in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm. He returned home to follow in the footsteps of his father, Artel Moore, who was a Vicksburg police officer from 1975 to 1987.

“He’s my role model. I’ve been around law enforcement my entire life. That’s all I’ve ever known, so when I got the opportunity, I took it.”

But his move into law enforcement took an unusual route.

“I returned to city and joined the fire department and was there for six months,” he said. “I wanted to be in law enforcement for my whole career, and at the time, I joined the fire department because the police department wasn’t hiring. When I learned the police department was hiring, and I could transfer over, that’s what I did.”

He joined the police department in March 2000, starting in the patrol division. He moved up through the ranks, first becoming a sergeant and watch commander, and then captain over patrol, where he supervised 40 officers and also supervised the crime prevention and domestic violence division.

Moore said he is presently talking to some officers “who are very excited” about forming the NET Team, a special team of officers that steps up enforcement and patrols in areas in response to frequent citizen complaints about drugs, disturbances, loitering and other problems.

He hopes to be able to put it in operation in August.

He said he’s bringing the program back “because there are just so many rowdy people hanging on the street corners and a lot of property crimes going on in these neighborhoods. Hopefully with these more officers out, hitting these neighborhoods and these street corners, we can curb some of that. More presence.”

He also wants to establish a two-officer DUI unit.

“Later down the road, I do want the bicycle patrol,” Moore said. “With the bike patrol, you’re out there up close and personal with the people in the community. I have had officers actually come to me and say they are very interested in riding the bikes, which is good, plus it’s a form of exercise. They would only ride during the daylight hours.

“We have four bikes that are not being utilized, and I would like to eventually have the officers ride the Segways around some of the businesses on the outskirts, such as Walmart, the outlet mall and Vicksburg Mall.” The police department has two Segways, a two-wheel personal mobility machine that allows people to move around quicker than walking.

One thing Moore said will help his plans is the potential of 10 recruits joining the department. He said they have passed the written and physical agility tests, and are waiting the results of background checks. He said the department has reserved 10 spots at the state’s police training academy in Pearl. The next class begins Sept. 1.

“I hope to send all 10 to the academy. We’re excited about that; that’s the largest group we’ve had in a long time.”

Besides increasing visibility, Moore said, the department is trying to establish more neighborhood watch groups.

More than a week after being sworn in, Moore said he’s now beginning to adjust to his new role.

“The butterflies are starting to go away; I’m settling in. I have two real good deputy chiefs here (Bobby Stewart and Eric Paymon) with me. We’ll take it one day at a time and move forward.

“As of right now, I’m still evaluating the department, and after that, we’ll probably make some moves and adjustments. Right now, it’s full speed ahead; we’re up and running.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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