By Andrea Yorke, Oxford Press
The Oxford Police Department will spend the year bettering itself, according to Chief Stephan Schwein.
"To enhance our community policing efforts," Schwein said. "There are some aspects that we're going really well with and some that we need to enhance."
The community policing project has the city divided up into districts. A different group is in charge of each district.
Schwein said they'll look at each district and see what needs improvement and what is being done well.
Each district sees different needs, including going door-to-door in the Mile Square to welcome Miami University students and tell them what makes a good neighbor. Schwein said they plan to expand that program this year.
Another way to make the department and city better is training.
"We're going to do more in-house training," Schwein said.
Some of that training includes CPR and first aid. Schwein said police officers typically arrive at the scene of an accident or medical emergency before an ambulance because police are always on the road patrolling, which is not true of ambulance drivers.
Schwein said that it takes about three minutes for police to respond to an emergency and about five minutes to respond to non-emergency calls.
Being chief of police in a small town with many other departments close is a positive for Oxford, Schwein said.
The Miami University Police Department is supposed to hire a new chief and Schwein said he is looking forward to working with him or her.
"It will be a chance to talk about what we can do together," Schwein said, adding that having multiple departments in a small area is not a bad thing. "It's not particularly troublesome. There are some instances it can be advantageous. It's more of an advantage than a disadvantage."
Being able to call on other local departments for help is one advantage Schwein said he sees in Oxford.
The department has been successful thanks to its personnel, who Schwein said are well-trained, well-educated and well-equipped.
"We have lots of excellent people who want to do a good job," he said.
Although Schwein said the department is doing well in many areas, making their money stretch is one of the areas the department would like to improve on.
"We're always looking for ways to make our money go further. When your budget is 87 percent payroll, it's hard to find ways to make the money go further," Schwein said.
Some of the ways the department is making ends meet, including civilianizing some positions and having those civilians complete clerical work so officers can be out patrolling and investigating.
The department currently has 26 officers, which Schwein said is considered full-staffed.
However, 26 officers was also considered full-staffed in 1997 but police programs have grown and expanded since then.
Grants are another way to purchase needed equipment, but Schwein said grant money can easily be taken away if federal and state funds dwindle.
"They help a little, but you can't depend on it," Schwein said.
Increasing police visibility in Oxford is another way Schwein said he wants to better the department.