Mayor announces appointment of Jay D. Oliphant Jr. as new Director of Public Safety

The City of Natchitoches and Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. held a press conference on Dec. 6 to address public safety efforts in the Natchitoches community. As part of these efforts, Williams proposed an administrative restructuring, appointing retired Louisiana State Police Deputy Superintendent of Patrol Jay D. Oliphant Jr., for the City Council’s approval, as the new director of public safety. Police Chief Nikeo Collins and Fire Chief John Wynn will work alongside/report to Oliphant.

“The recent uptick in senseless violence is not unique to Natchitoches,” said Williams. As Mayor he stays in near constant communication with local law enforcement, including the Sheriff and DA’s Office. “It’s no secret that cities across the United States are witnessing a meteoric rise in gun violence and other violent crime for that matter.”

To fight this, the City has allocated nearly $500,000 to go toward public safety efforts from the police department’s budget. Because the department hasn’t been fully staffed for a while now, the funds in its budget hadn’t been entirely consumed for the fiscal year. Moving forward, the City will budget to fund Oliphant’s salary 100 percent going into the next fiscal year. 

The appointment will be put before Council summarily at its Dec. 12 meeting. Within the next 30 days, a public hearing will be held to give residents an opportunity to voice their thoughts. The Council will vote on the appointment at its January meeting.

“When citizens are afraid to step outside of their homes and walk to the mailbox, that’s unacceptable,” said Oliphant. One consistent expectation must be realized for all residents: Natchitoches must be a safe place to live.

“I came into this office as violent crime was already on the rise and I made the promise that I would do everything in my power to make Natchitoches a safer place,” said Williams. “I love Natchitoches. It is my home.”

Ronnie mentioned several crime reduction initiatives like the creation of Natchitoches’ first Crime Stoppers organization in conjunction with the DA’s office. Another effort made to help work toward crime reduction was the re-emergence of the Boys and Girls Club and the new presence of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program in the city. The Council will also vote on an ordinance at its Dec. 12 meeting that’s designed to help the city, among other things, to pay its officers better for recruitment and retention purposes. Other initiatives include the mayor’s summer youth employment, Mayor’s Youth Council, the angel fund administered by Parks & Recreation personnel to, in some cases, totally eliminate the costs of participating in city sporting activities.

“Still crime is a wicked problem that requires a varied approach to see its reduction,” Williams explained. “It is an issue I think about every day.”

Oliphant said he is grateful for the opportunity to serve and humbled to even be considered to serve as the director of public safety for the City of Natchitoches.

“This is a team effort, in which I fully understand cannot be done alone or overnight,” said Oliphant, who thanked Chiefs Collins and Wynn and their respective department members for their hard work and service to the residents of Natchitoches. “We must strive to build and maintain relationships with our local, state, and federal partners and share resources necessary to accomplish our mission to provide public safety.”

Oliphant served on the Natchitoches City Police for three years and was hired as a Louisiana State Trooper in 1994. He served in various roles throughout his tenure as a state trooper, including field training officer, defensive tactics instructor, narcotics investigator, mobile field force operator, SWAT operator, and SWAT counter-sniper. He was promoted to Sergeant at State Police Troop E in Alexandria in 2002 and Lieutenant at Troop G in Bossier City in 2005.

He was the first African American to be promoted to troop commander at Troop E in 2013 where he developed a reputation for being firm, but fair and earned the respect of men and women under his command. He later achieved the rank of Region 3 Patrol Command Inspector and an appointment as the Deputy Superintendent of Patrol. He is widely known for his outstanding leadership, vision and commitment to the people he served. He retired on June 18, 2021 after working for 27 years with an accumulated time earned of a total of 30 years of service.

“Although not having adequate staffing somewhat impairs our ability to respond to calls for service, we must still perform our duties and responsibilities with the personnel we do have,” said Oliphant in closing. “The time is now that we move forward in a positive light, ensure the morale of these agencies is intact, and do what we can do, as a team, to bring an unmatched level of public safety to the City of Natchitoches.”

The NPJ reached out to the DA and Sheriff offices for comments as to how the City’s new appointment regarding crime reduction can benefit residents throughout Natchitoches Parish. Both offices said they were unaware of the appointment.