WEST ALEXANDRIA — Police Chief Tony Gasper presented a 30-year veteran with the West Alexandria Police Department’s Employee of the Year Award at the village’s regular monthly meeting April 20.
Officer Mike McDonald, who’s been with the West Alexandria police for about a year and a half, was also promoted to Assistant Police Chief during last month’s meeting. McDonald, who currently lives in Middletown, has worked in law enforcement for three decades, including 20 years with the Dayton Police Department and ten working in crime scene investigation.
“He knows everything about everything,” Gasper said before presenting McDonald with the award. “If it comes around, he knows about it.”
Gasper stressed that it was “the little things” a bigger police department might overlook which make McDonald such an important member of the team. He pointed to a recent case in which McDonald spent three hours tracking down the landlord of a senior citizen whose furnace was on the fritz.
“It’s little things like that that make everyone in our community happy with the police department,” Gasper said. “A lot of times, especially new officers, they want to go out and get the bad guys. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. That lady was a senior citizen. She had no heat. And he wasn’t going to let it go until he did something about it.”
It was the chance to be of service, according to McDonald, that drew him to police work in Preble County.
“I liked the fact that it was a small community where I could focus more on the service aspect of police work and less on the enforcement,” McDonald said. “After 30 years, the last thing I wanted to do was run around chasing drug dealers and gang bangers. Most of our work here is service-oriented. It gives you a chance to interact with people in a way that’s positive and psychologically healthy, which is not the way it is in a big city.”
McDonald elaborated, saying that working in West Alexandria gave him the opportunity to help improve residents’ quality of life.
“You can address issues here without the level of animosity you’d get in the city. And you can actually see the fruits of your labor by being able to help people out,” McDonald said. “In Dayton, 90 percent of issues end with someone going to jail, and that doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t fix the underlying problems.”
McDonald praised the residents of West Alexandria for having a good relationship with their police.
“One of the first things I noticed is that people are friendly and supportive of the police department. People are very nice, and I wasn’t used to that,” McDonald said. “I want to express my appreciation to the people of West Alexandria for allowing me to have this opportunity, and to say that I’m honored to have the chance to be here and to help out in whatever way I can.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish