New Xenia police chief focused on drugs, homelessness

XENIA — This city has its first new police chief in nearly 20 years. Chris Stutes, a 26-year veteran of the Xenia Police Division, was sworn in at Greene County Common Pleas Court last week.

The new chief’s top priorities include myriad issues facing the city today, including drugs and related crimes, homelessness, enforcement of “quality of life” issues in parks and neighborhoods, and bringing new officers into the field.

The Xenia police department is in the midst of a reorganization effort to move toward a precision policing model, Stutes said.

“It’s about bringing local solutions to local problems. We believe in the community policing philosophy, and problem-oriented policing, but we’ve never been able to build the structure to support it,” Stutes said. “The precision policing model, it can work for a department of three people, it can work for a department of 30,000.″

The renewed focus on drugs involves working in conjunction with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office ACE Task Force, and the police department is also working with Xenia businesses to crack down on drug paraphernalia exchanges on their properties.

Xenia police are also focusing on addressing homelessness, directing those who want help towards community resources, and enforcing loitering laws where needed.

“People that are homeless in this community, we want to get them help, get them enrolled in any programs we can get them involved in, and those individuals we want to help in that manner. It’s the ones that come here and don’t want help, that want to continue to be an issue for us, that we need to work up or work out.”

Xenia has also had issues with cars doing burnouts and driving donuts in parks and neighborhoods.

Numbers of applicants for officer positions has drastically dwindled across the region and the state. Though the Xenia police department has no currently unfilled positions, recruitment, retention and outreach has become a major focus. Additionally, the department is improving retention by offering additional support for officers already in the force.

“Years ago, in police work, you dealt with everything, went home and sucked it up,” Stutes said. “But officer wellness has been identified because of suicide rates, divorce rates, alcoholism. That’s something we’re focusing on. You have to take care of your people.”

Stutes replaces Chief Randy Person, who is retiring after 46 years with the department. Person will serve as Chief Emeritus of the department until September, working to ensure a smooth transition for the department.

“We get into this profession to help people, and we’re here because of the community,” Stutes said. “Our job is to provide the services to the community that they deserve and expect.”

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