Feb. 5, the Oxford City Council repealed an ordinance that established the maximum age limit of new hire police officers.
The previous ordinance established 60 years of age as the maximum age at which the Oxford Police Department can hire police officers fresh out of the academy.
“I can tell you that 60 years old is awfully old to start a career in law enforcement,” Oxford Police Chief Robert Holzworth said. “We only established 60 as an age because we realized that [the OPD] didn’t have any established maximum age for hiring new officers.”
According to Holzworth, the OPD surveyed 15 different police departments, all of which use 35 as the maximum age. Following the repeal of this ordinance, OPD will also use 35 as the maximum age, according to Holzworth.
“It has been voted on by myself and the civil service commission that the age be changed to 35,” Holzworth said during the City Council meeting.
“[Sixty years old] was established in 2004 by our former police chief,” Councilor Kate Rousmaniere said. “I don’t know why he chose that number, but I believe now is an appropriate time to change it.”
According to Mayor Richard Keebler, original concern was raised when it was thought that this rule applied to police officers who transferred from other police departments. However, it was clarified that this ordinance only applies to officers fresh from the academy.
“This applies to appointments to new, uncertified police officers,” Keebler said. “This does not apply to officers who have any experience with another department. Also, we’ll need to change the wording of the ordinance. Since it is written to apply for ‘an original appointment to the Oxford police department,’ it implies that the rule applies only to officers new to Oxford. So that will be changed as well.”