By Jeremy Weldon
Sardis native Walter Armstrong, now serving as police chief in Natchez, was recently named as the 39th president of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police at a conference in Biloxi.
Armstrong is a 34-year veteran of law enforcement, spending 25 years with the Highway Patrol before accepting chief of police positions in Vicksburg, and finally in Natchez in August of last year.
He graduated from North Panola High School in 1979, and received both bachelor and master’s degrees at Alcorn State University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Dale Carnegie leadership training course, the Mississippi Law Enforcement Command College, and the Rural Executive Management Institute at the University of Arkansas. He was the recipient of the 2017 Jim Ingram Lifetime Achievement Award.
Before he entered law enforcement, Armstrong worked as an EMT for the South Panola Community Hospital until 1984 when he was accepted into the state police training program.
“They tell recruits to put down three places they would like to work when we graduated and I wrote down Grenada, Clarksdale, and Southaven,” Armstrong said. When graduation day arrived and he drew his assignment, he was initially disappointed to be sent to Port Gibson on the Gulf Coast.
“I was 23 years old and I missed North Mississippi real bad at first because I just wasn’t familiar with that part of the state,” he said. “I kept wanting to live and work up there, but I couldn’t ever get a transfer.”
After a few years he married a woman from Fayette, and the couple settled in on the Coast and began to raise a family. The rest, he said, is history.
Armstrong has several brothers and sisters in Panola and Tate Counties and said he relishes the visits he gets to make home.
“We try to get up there at least twice a year and it’s always good to be back in my home area,” he said. “We were there for the North Panola homecoming game last year and I was just amazed at all the people and all the tailgating that was happening. I was really impressed to see how much Sardis has going on now.”
Armstrong said doesn’t expect to ever live in Panola County again as he is firmly entrenched in the middle of the state, but will always be grateful for this roots here. “I didn’t intend to leave, but that’s how life worked out.”
Armstrong and his wife have four sons.