Oxford welcomes two new officers

By Kelsey Kimbler - For The Register-Herald

OXFORD — Two new police officers were sworn-in during an Oxford City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Oxford welcomes Officer Richard Butler and Officer Anthony Gilbert, two individuals with what Chief John Jones called “very impressive resumes.”

They were both hired on to the OPD during the summer months and have now graduated to the Field Training Officer Program.

Butler is a U.S. Army veteran, has a psychology degree from the University of Cincinnati, has training in social work, and worked at Hamilton County Corrections for a while, according to Jones.

It is customary to have someone close to the officer pin their badge, and the duty fell onto Butler’s fiancée, who was honored to pin badge 49 onto her future husband’s chest.

Butler commented that while he knew his fiancée was going to pin his badge, “It was something that was meaningful to her and me, so I was really happy to have her come up and do that.”

His fiancée played a big role in him accepting the position.

“My fiancée is actually a graduate from Miami University, she loves the area. It kind of came up as a hiring option right around the time I was looking,” he said.

Butler was officially hired in June, but he was still attending the police academy during that time so he rode around in civilian clothes with his current field officer. He finally got into uniform in late August/early September.

He’s currently in the Field Training Officer Program, working with Officer Derrick Carlson, who is the last of Butler’s field training officers. The process typically takes 4 weeks, but can be longer or shorter depending on schedules. The new officer has to learn policies, procedures, and city codes.

In addition to learning the policies, the new officer cannot drive the cruiser until they can map all 165 Oxford streets. According to Butler, the map is “one of the most demanding things I’ve ever had asked of me.”

As demanding as the training is, he feels like the department isn’t just waiting for him to sink or swim – they want him to succeed.

Officer Carlson noted, Butler is the 10th officer he has trained since working with the OPD.

“We’ve had some officers come who have experience already,” Carlson said. “We had to go over what our policies were versus policies at their prior department. It’s not so much teaching them how to be a cop; it’s teaching them how to be an Oxford cop. With Butler here, it’s been a little bit of a hybrid of both.”

“I find a lot of my skills are very useful doing this job,” Butler said of his resume. “We’ve had some interactions with some emotionally disturbed people – my social work skills have really come in use here.”

He continued, “I can pick and choose from all my experiences here and it’s been fairly successful.”

When asked about his goals for this position, he admitted it was too soon for him to have many goals, but “One of the selling points for me accepting the job here was that every officer has to know a little bit about everything, but you’re also allowed to focus on something and specialize.”

He plans to eventually specialize, possibly as a Community Liaison Officer or Community Resource Officer. He noted, with his background in social work, he believes he might be a good fit. He likes the thought of “interacting with community, the different groups, members, and building that relationship and providing resources and obtaining resources and things like that.”

Before he specializes, he wants to learn the basics of the position.

“It’s exactly what I was looking for,” he said of the job.

He added, “I’ve been absolutely amazed with the way the community supports the Oxford Police Department. I haven’t had anyone who has outright shown us hostility or negativity, but constantly we’re getting thanked — people will come up and talk to us and want to support us. There are always cards – in fact there were cards in our mailboxes yesterday from local churches. Each of them is personalized to each officer.”

Officer Gilbert is from Liberty Township. He has a degree in Criminal Justice and a background in sales. Chief Jones noted that Gilbert turned away from his higher paying sales job, because he “had [police work] in his blood,” as his father is Chief of Police in New Miami. Before joining OPD, Gilbert worked part-time on Mt. Healthy’s police force.

Gilbert had his wife and two children pin badge 51 onto his chest. He shared, this ceremony was especially meaningful to him because he plans for badge 51 to be his only badge.

He admits, he’s beginning his career as a police officer later than most people, but he was selective about the job he chose. He wants Oxford to be the last station of which he is a part.

He was hired Aug. 15, and like Officer Butler, he is going through the FTO program to learn the “tricks of the trade.”

He noted, at Mt. Healthy he had great supervisors, and that trend is continuing with Oxford.

“Everyone seems really approachable,” Gilbert said. “The doors are always open, as you can see coming in. Everybody is eager to help, to ensure that I have everything that I need. It’s been great.”

Officer Gilbert recently had his first day working with Officer Carlson.

“Hebrings some experience to the table, which is nice,” Carlson said. “I’m not dealing with a fresh new officer who hasn’t had any experience dealing with people. That’s usually one of the biggest things that we have to make sure we get in a candidate, someone who is respectable not only to the public, but receives respect back from them.”

A background with a lot of different experiences is mixing with his new training. “I’m always eager to learn new things,” Gilbert said. “I think every officer has something to provide. So the way I try to take my training is like I know nothing.” This way, he can blend his old learnings, with new teachings and become a better officer, he said.

While he was happy in his former salesposition, he wasn’t fulfilled, Gilbert said. He had always wanted to be a police officer, due to growing up with a father in the business. When he graduated from college he was offered a sales job and his father brought up a point that he couldn’t turn away from: as a police officer he would miss many events and days with his two children.

That point convinced him to take the sales job, but now he is motivated to make the world a better place for his children.

“My goal when I first thought about getting into law enforcement was that I wanted to change the world for everybody. Now that I’m in this position, as long as I change somebody’s world, then I think I’ve made a difference. So hopefully there’s somebody in the Oxford community I can have that impact on, and change the path they’re going down — or really just impact their life in some way that means something to them.”

Like Butler, Gilbert said Oxford is very supportive of the police department.

“At this time, there’s a lot of animosity between the public and the police, but you don’t really feel that here,” he said.

By Kelsey Kimbler

For The Register-Herald