Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver showed up in Burton Monday evening.
But he wasn’t there for an arrest or emergency. Rather, he was there to educate the public and tell stories of a small-town police department with a massive Facebook presence that made national news this year.
Oliver, the author of “No Mopes Allowed: A Small Town Police Chief Rants and Babbles about Hugs and High Fives, Meth Busts, Internet Celebrity and Other Adventures,” signed copies of his book and talked about how the department’s Facebook page went viral.
On a muggy evening in the Luxenberg Family Reading Garden, he said the site has nearly 153,000 Facebook fans as of June 16.
The chief said he called criminals “mopes” while growing up and derived the name from the 70s show “Kojak,” adding his friends thought a “mope” was a swear word. However, it is a criminal who takes from the public, he said.
Some of the audience asked questions, ranging from running the police department to asking about dumb criminals.
One of the criminals said the pants he was wearing were not his. That confused the chief until he drew more information out from the perpetrator.
“The criminal then said the crack cocaine in the pants pocket was not his, either,’” Oliver said to applause and laughter.
His book, published by Gray & Co. Publishing of Cleveland in 2013, showcased some of the greatest hits from the Facebook page’s first two years of existence as well as his stories.
Some of the topics include the heroin epidemic to the “Shop-With-A-Cop” charity program as well as the chief’s respect for veterans. It also includes daily police action reports and conversations with criminals, he said.
“We get donations and funds from all over the world, thanks to the Facebook page,” the chief added.
Oliver, the chief since 2004, said he grew up in a rough neighborhood in Akron, but visits to the library kept him off the streets and saved his life.
He started working at Brimfield Police Department 20 years ago.
“I had an Akron Police Department sergeant get in my face and he told me, ‘You’re too smart for this!’ Get off the streets!” the chief said. “The next day, I was at the library.”
A librarian, who has since passed away, struck up a friendship with him. She learned what he liked and always had books ready for him.
From that point on, he went into law enforcement and joined the department in the early 1990s. He said an effort such as his department’s must come from the top down.
“Community policing is not expensive, but you have to have buy-in from a ton of different people,” he said.
So far, the attention has helped the police department’s efforts in fighting crime.
“Normally, we make 1,000 arrests a year,” he said. “This year, we are at 290, which projects out to about 600 to 700 this year. That’s a 40-percent drop in crime.”
All proceeds of the book benefit the Chief Oliver Foundation, a nonprofit organization that distributes funds to Brimfield Police Department’s charitable programs and assists juvenile survivors of sexual assault.
For more information about the Brimfield Police Department and the Chief Oliver Foundation, call 330-673-7716, visit their website at www.brimfieldpolice.com or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrimfieldPolice.
More online: See a section of Oliver’s speech.
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