Three law enforcement officials were sworn in to the Oxford Police Department at city council Tuesday evening, joining 25 other men and women on the force.
Law Director Steve swore in Matt Blauvelt and Matt Hardin as new officers. Officer Greg Moore pinned his wife Sergeant Lara Fening, who is the first female supervisor in Oxford history.
All new members have had previous experience in the police force. Blauvelt was an officer of probation, warrant and police in Hamilton. Hardin was a part of the Marine Corps in Afghanistan. Fening was in the control unit of the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) and Oxford Township.
With the extended family and friends of the initiated in the crowd, witnesses created what Steve Snyder referred to as “a fine looking audience.”
Those in attendance included Calvin and Linda Wagers, whose son Matt Wager was sworn into the Oxford Police Department in 2011.
“We’ve known Matt Hardin since the age of eight,” Calvin said. “So I can honestly say that Oxford is getting the best officer they could ask for.”
Also present were Hardin’s grandmother, Beverley Fuson, and sister, Holly Holliday, who made the hour trip from Millford with their children for the occasion.
“I’m so proud of my baby brother and his fellow officers,” Holliday said. “The Oxford community is incredibly lucky to have these people.”
Following city council, Oxford Police Chief Robert Holzworth expressed his approval of the additional forces.
“There is no doubt they will hit the ground running,” Holzworth said. “But their tremendous enthusiasm will get them through our training program.”
The 14-week-long program is designed to teach novice officers ways of policing in both the city and on campus. With their neighboring force responsible for additional jurisdiction lines every year, Holzworth said an ongoing relationship with the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) is essential in patrol, investigation and communication.
“Our forces may not be joined, but they are blended,” Holzworth said.
Having lived in Oxford since 1967, Holzworth is a Miami alum and merger, and said he genuinely values the education and safety of Miami students.
“It’s a small number [of students] who make mistakes,” Holzworth said. “You don’t believe it, but I still consider Miami students the best. Most of you are great young men and women, that’s why we’re adding additional officers. So issues are reduced and better contained for your safety, even if we’ll never completely be rid of them.”
With just over 15,000 undergraduates in a town with less than 60 police officers, some students said they are not excited about the increase in the police force.
Having spent four years in Oxford, senior Julie McKechnie said she has doubts over the addition to the force.
“I’m sure I speak for many when I say I am not looking forward to more officers in the area,” McKechnie said. “I just don’t think a few more men and women in uniform will be beneficial to the point where we see a change in student conduct and problem resolution.”
While some don’t see the change as positive, others are optimistic.
Sophomore Celeste Cantwell said she feels safer knowing OPD are patrolling the streets, regardless of the result.
“The more people we have protecting our interests, the better,” Cantwell said.
Citing the possibility of safer nights and less trouble for the community, sophomore Nora Husani said she is also optimistic about the additional forces.
“Even if it’s three new police officers, it still means there are three more pairs of eyes looking out for the safety and well being of our city,” Husani said.
In spite of the conflicting attitudes toward their initiation into the Oxford Police Force, newly initiated Officer Matt Hardin said he considers this opportunity a remarkable one.
“It’s a real honor,” Hardin said. “We are very excited to serve this community, and will begin to do this tomorrow.”