By Linda Collins
For the Herald
ENON — When Lewis Wilcox was sworn into office as chief of police for the Village of Enon in October 2012, Enon Mayor Tim Howard said the village would greatly benefit from an experienced professional like Wilcox, then a 40-year veteran of law enforcement, who would “guide the police department as it moves forward.”
Now as 2016 draws to an end, Howard reflects upon the quality of services that the village police department has provided to the community under the direction of Wilcox and the many accomplishments of the village police officers.
“The village realizes the importance of having well trained officers in its police department. In today’s world, training needs to be a high priority to ensure not only the safety of our officers, but also the safety of the residents we serve in the Enon community,” Howard said.
The mayor pointed out that both Wilcox and Police Lieutenant Michael Holler have done an excellent job of utilizing low-cost or free training opportunities for Enon police officers.
“This is important since we are trying to watch our expenditures very closely in the police department,” Howard said. “We also have officers certified in various aspects of law enforcement that are able to conduct in-house training sessions for our entire department. This is a huge benefit that saves the village a considerable amount of money.”
Holler, a fulltime officer with the village, completed numerous training sessions throughout 2016, including courses in evidence room management and electronic surveillance at the Ohio Police Officers Training Commission (OPOTC) in London, Ohio.
This year, the local police department cut costs for police officer training by hosting both Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Driving Under Suspension training sessions at no charge for all the area agencies who participated. The Clark County Advocacy Center conducted the Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition training that taught the officers to identify the signs of abuse and trauma in children, and the Clark County Municipal Prosecutor’s Office conducted the Driving Under Suspension training which educated officers on all Ohio driving under suspension laws.
“This training was extremely beneficial to officers from every experience level and was very well received by all agencies. In fact, we received several requests to host another one,” Holler said during an interview last week with Wilcox and the police lieutenant.
Holler, who is a certified Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) course instructor with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, provided a SFST refresher course to all the village police officers at no cost to the village police department.
“This training really helps increase the officers’ knowledge and confidence with administering tests in the field, and it fine tunes their performance with impaired drivers which aids in arrests and successful prosecutions of offenders,” said Holler.
In 2016, Holler co-taught two Solo Officer Response to an Active Shooter training sessions along with Lieutenant Chris Clark from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Both officers are certified in RAIDER (Rapid Deployment, Awareness, Intervention, Decisiveness, EMS, and Recovery) training which teaches officers the tactical skills necessary to operate in an unique active shooter setting.
The Enon Police Department also hosted a citizen’s active shooter training session in March, in which Holler employed the “Run, Hide, Fight” survival technique created by the Department of Homeland Security and promoted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
During the Dec. 13 village council meeting, Wilcox reported to Howard and village council members that Holler had successfully completed the Police Executive Leadership College (PELC) program this year and will be attending the Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE) program in March 2017 which is designed to increase an officer’s professional competency, management and leadership skills.
“This CLEE class, which is being funded by a scholarship, will cost approximately $1,800. We will only be paying for Lieutenant Holler’s overnight lodging and some meals, so that is a real bargain for this high-quality training,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox noted that Holler has moved up through the ranks and has trained to lead the local agency, and Enon Police Officers Robert Durham and Dwight Richard are now certified field training officers which is beneficial to the village. The police chief also listed several noteworthy improvements within the village police department during this year.
“I think 2016 has been a year of refinements. We are trying to improve some of our police techniques and become more streamlined and fluid,” said Wilcox. “The OVI and Driving Under Suspension training not only helped our officers build a more solid case, but the entire process will now flow smoother because all the officers were trained the same way.”
Interacting with the community has remained a priority with the department. In midsummer, the police chief encouraged officers to stop and talk with residents in the village and to place less emphasis on traffic enforcement.
The department also hosted several community events during the year which benefited the department’s annual “Shop with a Cop” program.
“We received lots of positive response on this engagement strategy and have marked it on the calendar for next year,” said Wilcox
The police chief pointed out that budget dollars for the village police department were tight throughout 2016 and would be even tighter in 2017. Hence, he thinks improvements in technology will be very limited in the future, but village police officers would remain committed to providing the best law enforcement services possible.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.