On behalf of the Oxford Police Department, I would like to address concerns and questions that we have received recently in regards to police interaction, training, and our overall mission.
The Oxford Police Department stands with our community in seeking justice, equality, and police accountability. Our mission is to serve our community with wisdom and compassion and to create a safe and connected community. What does this mean? It means that we seek wisdom when making decisions, we use compassion and empathy while working to understand the needs of each of our citizens and with every decision, we balance the need to keep our community safe while making sure that those very decisions connect our community rather than divide it.
We have very simple values at OPD. Those values are Communicate, Connect & Culture. Our goal is to leverage all aspects of communication platforms to listen first and keep our community informed. Just as our mission statement reflects we strive to connect to our community and staff. If life has taught us anything it is this, the more we connect the better we treat each other. We work daily to create relationships and build bridges in our community.
In 2019 our department logged over 2,000 hours of community service. From citizen police academies to walking the beat, we’ve learned and grown from those interactions with our community. Lastly, we want to have a culture at this police department that values every human and that creates an environment that is welcoming to all! We teach and train our staff to work with the idea of putting others first, to train our minds and our hearts to be better men and women daily, to know that questions are greater than reactions and that a heart that seeks to encourage and help can rebuild cities.
We understand that at the very core we are servants, public servants, that are called upon to meet the needs of our community but to also keep our community safe. We accept those responsibilities and we understand that keeping a community safe requires us to enforce laws. As important as that is to meet and listen to our community we also have to keep our community safe. However, we can do just that, as well as follow the mission of our department. Under our administration, we have four major focuses, employee wellness, servant leadership development, fundamental mastery, and honoring our commitment to our community.
We know that law enforcement is a stressful job and that stress takes a toll on employees over a 25 to 30-year career. We have two command staff members that are FBI trained instructors in Officer Resilience. This training is developed to create mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health in all of our staff members. We are teaching this program to our department and developing other strategies to increase employee health. We have mandated that each employee visit with the city’s employee assistance program to combat the mental stress of the job and life. We’ve started an internal podcast to bring in experts to speak on topics related to mental health, financial stability, physical fitness, relationship building at home, and in our community, spiritual strength, leadership, and mission responsibility.
We are working with financial consultants to help employees mitigate stress due to financial concerns. We believe that if we can reduce job-related stress on our officers that we can improve our relationships and community interactions.
Servant leadership training follows our mission and instills our commitment to an other’s first environment. Fundamental mastery is a focused effort on training our staff to be good at the basics of police work and to make one on one interactions a priority of excellence. Finally, our commitment to our community, we commit to continue building relationships through Citizen’s Police Academy, Camp Cops, DARE, Coffee with a Cop, Safe Site tent, Law Enforcement Explorers, Breakfast at the Bus Stop, Pack the Patrol car, OPD Book Drive and countless other community events.
We have received numerous questions concerning the #8cantwait campaign and how our policy addresses those topics.
- Chokeholds and Strangleholds: We do not teach chokeholds and strangleholds nor do officers receive that type of training in the police academy. We do not hog-tie nor do we transport face down. Citizens are transported sitting up in a car so we can transport with a seatbelt on them.
- De-escalation Training: We train annually on de-escalation strategies, along with Cultural Diversity training. We have 2 instructors in the de-escalation, we have 4 officers trained in crisis intervention and we have 5 officers that are FBI trained negotiators.
- Require warnings before shooting: In instances where warnings can be given, we do. However, not every instance is reasonable for an officer to have time to give a warning.
- Exhaust all means before shooting: Yes, the force used in any encounter should be a reasonable amount of force needed to stop a threat. Our department is trained in multiple force options before utilizing deadly force.
- Duty to intervene: Yes, we have policies that require us to intervene and report misconduct.
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles: No, a vehicular attack on citizens or officers could require using force to stop the vehicle.
- Require the use of a force continuum: Yes, the force used in any encounter should be a reasonable amount of force needed to stop a threat. Our department is trained in multiple force options before utilizing deadly force.
- Require comprehensive reporting: Yes, every use of force incident is followed up with a report and an investigation by the shift supervisor that is submitted to the command staff for review.
We want our community to know that we are a nationally and state accredited department. The accreditation managers audit our department multiple times throughout the year and each audit has its own unique requirements. Our entire police department wears body cameras and we have a policy that our cameras have to be on during citizen interactions.
I would like to end by taking a few minutes to share my heart.
I know that history has proven that our profession at times has not met the standard that our citizens deserve. As law enforcement officers in 2020, we cannot erase that hurt and frustration. As one man, I cannot change the heart of another person. However, I can make sure that my heart is pure and I commit to you that I will be the change that we need. I also challenge you to commit to being that change.
If I will commit and you commit we can change the world…together.
Below is a video message from OPD Chief Jeff McCutchen and Mayor Robyn Tannehill
Jeff McCutchen is the chief of police for the Oxford Police Department.