Coffee with Corey: Faith, Service, Community

By Corey Poole

Not to knock anywhere else in Natchitoches Parish, but ask Michael Gillie which town is the best for kids to grow up in and his answer will be Natchez. He was born and raised there and it’s where he’s currently serving his community as chief of police for the Natchez Police Department. 

His favorite memory of Natchez is the free block parties his mother threw when he was younger. Natchez is very community oriented so events were always like a family reunion.

“[As a kid] your neighbors fed you, disciplined you, and then let your parents know about it,” Gillie recalled. “Everyone knows everyone and we all look out for each other.”

But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Chief Gillie. His dedication to his work goes beyond Natchitoches Parish, to his full-time job with the Ringgold Police Department. He also runs a catering business called Bayou Soul where his passion for cooking real good food gets to shine.

“It makes the daily routine very complicated and you’ve got to be dedicated to it, to do it,” Gillie explained. 

It’s difficult, so when asked what his key is to juggling it all, he simply points up. Through God, Gillie has strength, courage and obedience.

“Him and me are humble,” Gillie said. “I’m just trying to find my way.”

Since he became police chief in 2018 he’s served two consecutive terms unopposed and worked to build his hometown up brick by brick. Gillie is a people person with an open door policy and he’s big on loyalty, trust and respect. He has two part-time officers serving under him: Wayne O’Con, who also works for the Many Police Department, and Adrian Duruisseau, who also works for the Northwestern State University Police Department. 

Gillie’s step-father, Gerald Wayne Johnson, was the chief of police for Natchez from 2014-2018. Gillie graduated from the Natchitoches City Police reserve officer training academy in 2009, at the exact same time his father , Michael Gillie Sr., graduated from the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office reserve officer training academy.

He’s worked at several departments through the years including New Llano PD, Florien PD, Zwolle PD. He even worked as a civilian role player at Fort Polk where he learned to speak Dari and Pashto. It’s not about the rocky start, but how you finish. Gillie always found himself searching for the right fit, and in 2016, he felt the need to return home. This is how he ended up with his multiple job scenario.

“Everyone talks about the good days, but there were times I got discouraged,” Gillie shared. “When you go home, behind closed doors, that’s where the doubt and worry gets to you and that’s what no one sees. This is why I wanted to be a pillar in my community [as police chief].”

Jokes are jokes, fun is fun, but business is business. Gillie feels it’s important to talk to people. It’s not always about going to jail. Sometimes a simple conversation can take you further. 

Known by everyone as Mike, Junior, or “Big Guy,” Gillie never thought his path would lead him to be chief of police in Natchez. However, he did look up to McKinley Hoover Sr., who served as Natchez Police Chief for 25 plus years.

A Natchitoches Central graduate, Gillie signed to go play college football with East Texas Baptist University. He’ll graduate in May of 2023 with a degree in criminal justice from Bossier Parish Community College.

In their personal down time, Gillie and his wife Maudrinaux Harrison check off movies from their “must watch” list, treat themselves to food from Hana’s, and bake. Their three children (ages 11, 10 and 3) enjoy battling it out in Nerf wars in the home, with the cops pitted against the robbers.

Gillie is a member of the St. Martha Baptist Church on Hampton Road where he plays keyboard. He also sneaks in an occasional round, or more, of Madden or Call of Duty.

Speaking of community, Gillie is gearing up for the 2nd Annual Christmas Toy Drive on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 2-6 pm at Pecan Park on Main Street in Natchez. This event is near and dear to his heart and he was floored by the outpouring of support it’s received.