OXFORD, Ga. — “I believe in working together.”
This is the philosophy that newly appointed Chief Mark Anglin brings with him into his new position leading the Oxford Police Department and one that has been cultivated over a 32-year career in law enforcement.
“A law enforcement relationship is not just with the law enforcement agency, it’s with the community,” Anglin said. “If you don’t have the backing of your community, you’re not going to be successful in anything you do.”
Anglin was sworn in as chief during the Oxford City Council meeting Jan. 3. He succeeded Dave Harvey who served as chief from 2011 to his retirement in 2021.
Entering into a historically understaffed department that polices the small town of Oxford and works with the Emory Police Department to patrol the area around the Oxford College campus, Anglin said he has his work cut out for him.
“My time as chief so far has been a little difficult,” Anglin said. “It’s a rebuilding of the whole department, and you walk into the known but the unknown.
“I’ve been in administration before and it’s a lot of work, but I’ve had a lot of staff to assist me prior.”
Currently the department consists of two employees: himself and another police officer. Anglin said he hopes to prioritize hiring two new officers, as well as structuring regular and updated training into the department’s system.
One of the officers Anglin said he plans to hire will serve as an in-house trainer for the department.
Anglin, who has been trained and served as a police officer trainer at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and Georgia Public Safety Training Center, stressed the importance of regular and updated law enforcement training for police officers.
“My No. 1 goal with this department is to ensure that each officer has proper training they need to effectively serve the citizens and protect the citizens of Oxford,” Anglin said.
The state of Georgia requires that all police officers undergo 20 hours of annual training, which can be done from a computer. Anglin said that he would like to see his officers undergo more regular and in-person training.
While some police agencies don’t ask their officers to undergo additional training, citing a lack of resources and time to send employees to training outside of the 20-hour requirement, Anglin said, “I don’t buy that.”
“I believe if I have to come and work your shift as the chief, then I’m going to come and work your shift because you need to go get the most up-to-date training,” Anglin said.
“We can sit at a computer and watch an hour’s worth of training, which is OK. But, when you actually go to a training class, it kind of renews your spirit. It renews your drive as to why you’re a police officer because you do get burned out with law enforcement.”
Under the previous administration, Anglin said the department had been utilizing certain policing tools without updated training. This will change under his direction, he said, emphasizing the importance of regular training for all officers in the department.
“It’s going to start from the top,” Anglin said. “If I’m going to say you have to be trained, then I have to be trained as well to carry that type of tool we have at our disposal. I take my job very seriously and I’d rather be over prepared than underprepared.”
A resident of Covington for 17 years, Anglin has long-standing ties to Newton County and a familiarity with Oxford College, with his wife having attended the school for the first two years of her undergraduate education.
Anglin came to Oxford from a job as an investigator for the Newton County District Attorney’s office.
The bulk of his career was spent serving as an officer with the DeKalb County Police Department from 1990 to 2006; and as chief investigator in the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office from 2006 to 2019.
After retiring from the medical examiner’s office, he worked at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center as a law enforcement instructor; and with Risk Consultants of America Inc. as a safety and security professional before working in the DA’s office.
Though the tensions nationally between law enforcement and people of color over the past two years have not appeared to spill over to Oxford, Anglin said he plans to approach policing the same way he always has: with a will to help others.
In one of his first days in Oxford, he said he stopped by and met the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, an African-American church, and offered to assist its food pantry distribution.
These kinds of community relationships, Anglin said, are the ones he hopes to foster in his new role.
“[It] has a lot to do with just changing people’s mindset,” Anglin said. “It’s not us against them, it’s not them against us. We’re all in this together.”