“The Level of Service Will Not be the Same”

Oxford Police Coverage Moves from 24/7 to Banker’s Hours

by Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer Radio Free Oxford

Unnamed officials made the comment in the title a couple of weeks ago when asked about police coverage in our small town. And they didn’t mean that service would be better. Far from it.

On April 11th, the Town Commissioners swore in a Police Chief who will live 45 minutes away, who has implied he will maintain bankers’ hours, and who speaks about the love for his current hometown while seemingly feeling little for the town he will be tasked to serve and protect other than the value of his paycheck. * (Editor’s Note: To be fair, the new Chief stated tonight at his swearing in that he told his wife to expect some long hours and weekends at his new job. He also was very appreciative of the opportunity.)

But, hey, if disaster happens, the State Police and the Sheriff’s Department are on call and if they can tear themselves away from duties in other areas, will be here as soon as they can. And the new chief said he would “work really hard.”

Maybe we shouldn’t expect anything more than that. Maybe our town doesn’t deserve more than that. Maybe this new chief is perfect for this town, a good guy who will patrol the town on his bike and make sure things look fine. He’ll do this for eight hours a day.

Maybe we shouldn’t expect more. We could say that if we hadn’t provided for a home for a police chief and his family to live in as part of his hiring. We could say that if the salary wasn’t great. But, neither of those things are true.

We could say that if the town had adequately advertised the position and interviewed many different candidates. But they didn’t. How do we know? We know because we asked and the Commissioners wouldn’t answer. They just sat there staring off into space. Confidentiality, don’t you know. Had to ask their lawyer if they could answer that.

A citizen at the last meeting asked why the offering of a home to live in was not part of the posting for the Chief’s job. The town manager said it was “an oversight.”**Seems strange if you were actually interested in attracting a Police Chief who would want to live here and make Oxford his/her home. That kind of oversight indicates that the town wanted to someone they already had in mind. Someone they KNEW wouldn’t want to come live here. It’s an odd hiring strategy given today’s emphasis on hiring ethics, diversity, and equal opportunity. **When this question was asked again by the same citizen at the town meeting this evening, the town manager said they just hadn’t gotten around to changing the ad yet. Things must be REALLY busy in this little town of 650 residents. It’s almost as if they are hoping that another employee, a current employee, wants to live in that house. We wonder who.

But our town doesn’t have a hiring policy. This should have been clear to us years ago when the town manager, who makes $168,000 a year, hired her daughter to be the town “planner” at $86,000 a year. No public entity with any ethics at all allows that to happen. It’s a conflict of interest that is undeniable. In most towns, the hiring policy would have kept that from happening. But it happened here and no one cared.

I’ve been told that it’s because we don’t have a human resources department. Weird because the Town Manager has told others that she IS the human resources department.

Tonight, we will swear in a Chief of Police hired under murky circumstances to provide a level of service well below what we have had for decades. Officials admit it and shrug their shoulders as if to say, “tough luck you all.”

We are going to go from a man who cared about this town, lived here full time, knew residents by name, knew our history; to one who will clock out after his shift each day and go to his real home, the one he cares about.

I don’t blame the guy. He’s retired from another department and was offered what was sold to him as a cushy job that would require little of him except an 8-hour day and an occasional breaking and entering call, a noise complaint, or some drunken high jinks at a local bar. It’s a dream job. But it’s not his passion. His heart is elsewhere.

In all my time living here, we have never had a part time chief. That was a wonderful part of Oxford, having a resident who cared about us in charge of law enforcement. None of our Chiefs were perfect, even the most recent one. But we always knew they were there for us if we needed them. They lived where we lived and suffered through hurricanes and high tides with us. They knew our names and who we were. We had their numbers on speed dial or at least knew where they lived.

But now, because of petty town politics and the lack of proper hiring policies and processes, we won’t have that.

Maybe this is impossible in this day and age. But it doesn’t seem that our Town Manager and Commissioners even TRIED to get us the best fit for Oxford. They got quick and easy.

To those who want to defend this, save your breath. Don’t start with the name calling or the claim that townspeople attending a town meeting are committing an insurrection or a lynching. That kind of hyperbole might work in some courtrooms or political venues, but not here.

And, at tonight’s town meeting there will be plenty of praise, hard sales talk, and distraction, anything to pretend that everything is okay. Anything to get us to shut up and go away.

Problem is you can’t defend something that is wrong in so many ways.

And we know that.

Without involvement in local government, we cannot make our country great again!

Jan is a retired teacher and a current Chapter Chair for Moms for Liberty, Talbot

© Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

*This is my interpretation of what the new Chief has said in previous town meetings. When most of his comments are about why he doesn’t want to leave his current town, it doesn’t lead me to believe he embraces this town as “his.” He may be a great guy, a great cop, and someone we would love to have as an officer in this town. But he was hired to be the CHIEF of OXFORD POLICE. That’s more than a part time job and a passing career stop.

I have stated that I have nothing against this man. I know friends of his who think he is great. I don’t blame him for loving his hometown where he and his family live. That is NOT the point. The point is that this is not the way this should have been done and it doesn’t be meet the needs of this town.

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I am a 67 year old runner and conservative. I taught for 31 years and retired a few years back. In my life, I have coached and judged gymnastics, coached softball, and raised two amazing kids.

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