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A Police Chief's Mission to Serve with Love and Compassion

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 11, 2024 3:00 am

A Police Chief's Mission to Serve with Love and Compassion

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 11, 2024 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the Police Chief of Oxford, Mississippi—a small town where Our American Stories broadcasts from—had good reasons behind choosing to overhaul his department. Here's Chief Jeff McCutchen with the story.

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have supervision? Enhanced hearing? Extraordinary reflexes?

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You don't say no to him. World of Secrets from the BBC World Service is back with a brand new season investigating allegations surrounding the preacher TB Joshua. The culture of secrecy needs to be broken. Search for World of Secrets wherever you get your BBC podcasts. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show, including your stories. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com.

They're some of our favorites. Oxford, Mississippi, which is where we broadcast just about an hour south of Memphis, and we have a small town of about 20,000 people when college isn't in session and when Ole Miss is in session, and we're the home of Ole Miss, that can spiral up to about 50,000. Oxford, Mississippi's new police chief has good reasons for why he chose to overhaul his department, and as you are about to hear, every one of his reasons has a memorable story. My name is Jeff McCutcheon, 39 years old. I have spent 18 years of my life as a law enforcement officer, but that's not really how I identify myself. Anybody that knows me knows I'm a husband and I'm a father to two girls, and that's kind of my groundwork. I grew up just down the road from here, about 30 minutes in a little town called New Albany. My entire family basically grew up and worked in a furniture factory. My mom still does. My father's a pastor, and even in the summers of college, I would go back and work, and I tell people that because, man, I'm blue-collar, you know, hard worker, and I saw that in my family, and that was ingrained in me. I'm proud of that.

I'm really proud of that. It's made a huge impact on me, and a lot of times you hear people, oh, you rose to the top because of someone you knew, or, you know, the reality is, man, it's those that get after it and put their head down, and I was blessed. Man, my dad, being a pastor, we moved a lot from time to time, and you had to learn to make friends. You had to learn to talk to people and played sports growing up from the time I can remember, man.

If it was a ball or somebody was competing, I wanted to be in it. Had a really fun high school time. My senior year, we won a state championship in basketball, and, man, it was amazing. You know, you worked your whole life for that moment and got through that moment, and then I was like, gosh, what next? Like, I didn't prepare for that, and so going into college, you know, just trying to figure out, man, what do you want to do, and I'd always loved, one, being outside but being a part of a team and had this interest in law enforcement, and the summer that I turned 21, I was back working, doing landscape at this furniture company, and a guy working there was, I was telling about what I wanted to do, and he knew that the sheriff's department just down the road needed some jailers, and I said, man, I'll do anything, right? You know, I mean, I just want to get my foot in the door, and so about a week later, I got a shot, and the sheriff gave me a chance to work for him in Tipa County, and, man, it changed my life. You know, you experience things in life, and then you have this lightbulb moment to go, man, this is why God put me on this earth, and I'll never forget the jail administrator. He was a former sheriff of that county, and an older gentleman had set me down, and he said, son, have you ever driven by or walked through a cemetery, and I said, oh, yes, sir, and he said, there's a start date, and there's an end date, and I said, yes, sir, and he said, don't matter.

All that matters is what's in between in that dash, and he said, there'll be people that walk by your cemetery one day, and it's that dash that's what's going to matter to them, how you lived your life and how you treated them, and he said, you're going to learn real quick in law enforcement that how you treat people goes a long way for them and for you. Those encounters are important, and people are important, and so working in a small jail, man, you kind of learn to talk, you know. At the time, we worked swing shifts, and on night shift from midnight to eight in the morning, there was two of us, and somebody had to stay in the control room, so you by yourself, if something went south and until somebody else got there, your partner couldn't come out, and you learned quickly how to talk, how to de-escalate. They wasn't teaching us that at the time, but that's what you were doing. You were listening to people's stories.

You were empathizing. You were trying to make good decisions, not based off force, but based off leverage of using my words, using my compassion to get what we needed to get done, and so shortly, I did about a year stint there, year and a half, year and a half, and I got an opportunity to be a patrol officer for the Batesville Police Department, and I spent about a year there. Incredible opportunity, incredible time. I had quite a lot of what I learned initially as an officer to my FTO. He was unbelievable in teaching. He truly took pride in teaching me how to do things, why we do things, how it makes impacts. I actually got to do my FTO before I went to the academy, and so when I got to the academy, I felt like, man, we've just got to get it over with. This guy had me so well prepared. We were in classes.

I'm like, oh, we've done that, done that. It was huge for me, but while I was at the academy, I was there with about six or seven guys from the Oxford Police Department, and so Batesville and Oxford are pretty close, and my wife and I just got married, and we were living here in Oxford, and so I still connected with those guys, and sure enough, one of my classmates was actually going to relocate to the Jackson area, and he saw me at the gym and said, man, if you want to come over, now's a great time, and fortunately, in 05, I got an opportunity to move over here and start working at OPD, and so coming to OPD, just like everybody else, you know, you go through patrol and you serve as a patrol officer and did that for a few years, and we were starting back a grant program to do DUIs, and so I got an opportunity to serve as a DUI officer and did that for about six months until a criminal investigation spot opened up and was really fortunate to get that position. There were a lot of guys that put in, and I had an incredible captain that going into that position. I would say I was pretty headstrong and driven with blinders on, you know, not a lot of forethought in what I'm doing. There's a mission. You get the mission done, and let's roll on, and don't ask a lot of questions, and he was completely the opposite. He was super patient and very coachy about the way he would do things, which would drive me nuts because I'm like, give me a case.

I don't want you to see me again until I solve it. Like, I'm going to be on the street, you know, and he would constantly reel me back in and slow me down, and we would debrief cases, and again, I didn't understand it really well. And you're listening to Jeff McCutcheon, and he's Oxford, Mississippi's new police chief.

When we come back, more as Jeff continues his story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country, and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture, and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have supervision, enhanced hearing, extraordinary reflexes, to be, dare we say, superhuman? Well, Roku's new Pro Series TV can't do any of that for you, but with a 4K screen, side-firing speakers, and a blazing fast refresh rate, it'll sure feel like it. Elevate your entertainment using all your favourite apps, like iHeart, and play all your music, radio, and podcasts with the new Roku Pro Series. Your senses aren't better.

Your TV is. A web of manipulation and terrifying abuse. If you'd have said to do anything, I would have done it. With a powerful religious figure at its centre. There was no safe place.

You don't say no to him. World of Secrets, from the BBC World Service, is back with a brand new season, investigating allegations surrounding the preacher, TB Joshua. The culture of secrecy needs to be broken.

Search for World of Secrets wherever you get your BBC podcasts. And we return to our American stories. And now let's return to Jeff McCutcheon, and more of his story. And even in my time at the jail, I thought I understood dealing with individuals and why that's important, but when I became an investigator, I really, really learned. Because you go and you deal with situations where people have been victimized. And that could be from a property crime, or that could be from a personal victimization. And the heartbreak that you see, and the fear in their eyes.

And many times, you're their last hope. Can you get me answers? Can you help me? Can you solve this?

Can you put the person away who did this to me? And at that time, we were struggling with a rash of property crimes. I think for a year or two, man, we were averaging like 365 a year. Which in a small town like Oxford, man, every day somebody's getting their house broken into. You know, that's a big deal, and I found a little bit of success early. And you know, like with anything else, you find that success and you're like, oh, man, I got to get more of that. I got to craft myself better. And to come back for somebody, I've never been a victim of a burglary. But when we sat down and talked with these people, it wasn't about that you stole my stuff. You violated my peace of mind.

You know, you took something from me. I may never feel comfortable back in this house again. And to knock back on those doors to say, hey, that person's in jail, and oh, by the way, I got a truck coming.

I got all your stuff back. To see just the color in their eyes change, you understand why law enforcement officers just get lost in this job. Because there's no feeling like that. You know, even now, we'll brief our newbies on, hey, when this moment happens, I promise you, I'm going to have to kick you out of this office. Because there's no feeling like that again.

No home run you ever hit, no walk-off three. When you help somebody and you absolutely change them, man, there's nothing better. So went through that. Did about six and a half, almost seven years of investigations. But in that time, we had some cases that we took to court and thought they were just jam up good cases, you know, really solid cases. And I'll never forget, we had a multiple burglar case and had several people that had already taken pleas. And we took it to trial, and we had a witness, saw pretty much everything that went down. They saw people pull up. They saw those people go around the house, come back with stuff. We're like, we're good. Multiple people had already taken their guilty plea.

The jury came back not guilty. And I remember sitting there, like, whoa, how did we lose that? And so we get an opportunity to go back and talk with the district attorney and say, hey, we need to find out how we can do better, what happened. And he said, you don't have a relationship with this community. And I was like, what do you mean? They were like, man, the reputation of your department is not great. They were like, you know what, there was about a 30-second window.

She didn't see such and such. So, no, not good enough. And that moment then reminded me and dawned on me that every encounter we have has got to be spot on. Every time we go in a gas station to get a drink, we need to be smiling and speaking to people. We need to be personable.

We need a relationship with our community. And it was at that moment where you begin to change who you are and how you do things. A lot of times, even as a young officer, I didn't mean anything about or think anything about, I'm focused. So I pull up at the gas station, man, I'm getting my drink, get back, because I'm trying to do work.

But you miss all of those moments in between. Another teaching moment, we had a case where an individual took their life. And again, a young investigator, he's trying to teach me to look beyond just what's in front of me as a big case investigation. And he made me go back and trace the steps that that person took for the 24 hours prior to that moment. And so what I found was that that person actually was out the evening of shopping for the items that they would then use to take their life. And I just remember going back and replaying that video.

And I kind of stopped watching them after a while. And I started watching the people around them. Why didn't somebody hold the door for? You know, could I have been that person on that aisle that would have looked at them and just spoke? Or maybe just a smile? Or that moment at the register? You know, how many moments have we missed in our life for people that are just struggling internally that those gestures may have pushed them one more day?

And then maybe somebody picks it up the next day. And so when you begin to see all of this in your law enforcement career, and you begin to be shaped by the images that are in your head, and man, sometimes those are traumatic, you have to then either bury them or you have to use them for the greater good. And during that time as an investigator, that became my mission. So my wife and I got into ministry work with students. And again, you're kind of crafting yourself at all times. You know, what am I learning?

What am I seeing in the world? And we found out that all of these people that we thought were what we would call okay, when you get into a world where you start encouraging people and building people up and lifting them up, and you see their whole mannerism change. And you're like, wow, I did that through encouragement of you? And then you get to talk to them like, yeah, man, I really was in a low place. And that word of encouragement or that positive message or just that hug or that smile, man, that was huge for me.

That pushed me to the next day. And so I continue on as an investigator. And then an opportunity popped up that I thought would never consider myself a person that would be on the administrative side. But we had a major of operations position open up. And I put in and was just unbelievably blessed to have that opportunity. And so you go from jailer to the street officer to DUI officer to investigator. And in between all that, I had some SWAT time and probably been here four years where we had a hostage situation.

And our team actually had to make entry and do a rescue. And the things that you pick out of that is you train all these years and all these hours for one moment. But that one moment is critical to someone else. And so it helped to remind me that the little things that we're doing on a daily basis, that we can't take them from just mundane work or mundane training or this is not important.

That moment that you have to use it, it's important to someone. It's important to those men that were in the stack with me that I was a team leader at that time, and I hadn't been a team leader probably two or three months. And we had that event happen. And all you can think about is, did I do everything to prepare these guys for this moment?

Am I prepared for this moment? And it turned out good. We were able to rescue an individual and not hurt someone inside.

It was a perfect scenario. But you take all that, and it begins to continue to shape you and shape who you are and how you lead. So as major of operations, we began to focus on that personal touch of law enforcement. And at the time, it was Chief Joe East, we took a complete turn in law enforcement for OPD into what we call community-based policing, where we focus on community events and going out and meeting the public. And we were met with a lot of frustration in that because that's not the style that people were used to.

And even for me, I was like, man, I don't know how this is going to work out. I mean, we're cops. We've got to go out and take care of things. Take care of things, and so that was 2014. That summer, I got to go to Quantico. I spent two and a half months in Quantico at the FBI Academy and just met some incredible people. I got to take some great classes on leadership and communication and learning about what other places are doing it and how they're doing it. I'll tell you what I learned is in the South, when we talk about hospitality and we talk about those things, it's legit.

It's real. And the way we treat people and interact with them is completely different than other parts of the world. And it made me appreciate how we do things because I would be out with some of the buddies and they would be from different areas of the country. And I'm a yes, ma'am, yes, sir.

And the people are looking at you like, what are you doing? And it's that respect that goes a long way because it opened up other dialogues and opened up other conversations about just different things because now you're approachable. And you've been listening to Jeff McCutcheon, Oxford, Mississippi's new police chief, and talking about this switch to community policing and to building relationships inside the community and how that makes a difference. More of Jeff McCutcheon's story and more stories about, well, solving problems and ethical problems here on Our American Stories. Hello, iHeart listener.

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So, you know, being in the subway in D.C. and talking, you guys, people just looking at you and you're like, yeah, I'm not from here. I get it. So 2019, he decided to run for sheriff. It opened up the chief spot for an interim role.

And I was fortunate enough to receive that and become the interim chief in 2019. And he was still the guy, right? I mean, because he's still running for office. But I'm trying to hold the seat. But it wasn't one of those things where I wanted to just sit on my hands and say, well, you know, we'll we'll just let's just keep everything as it is. And I don't feel like that's leadership. I don't feel like that's helping the men and women that you serve with.

And I definitely don't think it helps your community. And so we just decided let's let's run it like it was ours. All right. Let's just don't sit back and wait for things. I don't want to be a counter puncher.

I want to be the first. And so we crafted a new mission statement. And so our mission statement was completely people driven.

We didn't want to do anything that wasn't people driven. So every phone call that we take, every traffic stop that we make, every call that we go on is tied to a person. There's nothing in law enforcement that you do that's not people oriented. And I don't care if you're out directing traffic, you're dealing with people.

You're dealing with people in those cars. And the way you present yourself and the way that you the way that you interact with them in every situation absolutely matters. Go back to that that new investigator who lost a case that should have been a good one because we didn't have that relationship. So we began to just focus on relationships and people. Last year we did over 2,000 hours of community service. And that could look like camp cops or that could be snow cones with kids. I mean, we try to literally look for any and every opportunity that we can get around people and just be people. You know, don't be a cop.

Just be people. I think it's next weekend, maybe in two weeks, we will go to one of the doctor's offices and they're doing a drive-through flu shot for children. Well, one of our captains, he's just reading the news and saw that they were doing that. And he said, I'm going to call them. And, you know, when you get a shot, you typically get a sucker, right? We're going to set up a snow cone station. So when they drive through and roll the window down and get a shot, they can pull right up and we've got a snow cone with you.

And it's going to be a guy or girl in a uniform smiling and giving you a fist bump in a snow cone. Those are the things that we want to instill in people of the good that's happening. And, you know, it's a little thing, but you never know where that kid's going to be in four or five years that they may give information to an SRO or they may have a total different perspective about law enforcement. And so it's not a, maybe, maybe not a tomorrow impact, but it's a seed that's being planted.

And then it's somebody else's responsibility to water it and help it. But we began to just focus on relationships and people. And so our mission is this, to serve with wisdom and compassion and to create a safe and connected community.

That's it. Because I think everything that you tie in, I don't care what stat you use, fits in that mold. And so we wrote it for keywords, and we preach this constantly to our officers. I mean, they get tired of, we're going to talk about it almost in every meeting. Are we focusing on those things? Because, number one, we're servants. So we got to have a servant's attitude. We got to have an other's first attitude.

It can't be about us here. Our role here is strictly to make someone else's life better. It's not about what we get out of it. It's what we give out of it. That's our goal. So, number one, we got to be servants. Two, we've got to have wisdom. We've got to make good decisions.

So we talk about, just to phrase it, what are all my options? You know, when you're looking at a situation, when you're on a call or a traffic stop, man, what are all of my options to fix this? Too often we are, do I take someone to jail, do I not take someone to jail? Do they get a ticket, do they not get a ticket?

Do they not get a ticket? There is so much in between there that we can meet a need. And so we begin to talk about that. We want your decisions to be wise, and what are all of your options to get through with this?

What are all your options that is best for you in a safety manner, but is also best for the person that you're dealing with? And when you think about that, man, Oxford is such a blessed community. Like, if you need something in Oxford, there's probably a nonprofit for it. If someone's hurting, there's probably a group that will meet that need. They just need to know about it.

And so we began giving our officers information on all of these nonprofits or all of these community help organizations and send it out to them in an email and say, listen, save that in your phone. When you get in these situations, man, go back to it and just, maybe it's not an arrest. Maybe it's not a ticket. Maybe you just say, hey, call this number, take a screenshot, call this number. They're going to take care of you.

Or you call them and bring them to you. And then, so we want to be wise in our decision-making. We want to see the big picture because everything matters.

Everything is important when you're dealing with people. And then to serve with wisdom and compassion. I know for me, there's been people that have shown me compassion in my life, and it changed my life. But they didn't just change my life, they changed my kids' life.

They changed their kids that are going to come because that's what I'm going to teach them. And so for us, we want our officers and our staff to think every time, how can I show compassion? We realize that not every time we can show compassion. Sometimes people do have to go to jail. We still treat you right.

We still treat you like a human. We still keep that servant-others-first mentality, but I still may have to take someone to jail. Someone may talk themselves into a ticket, okay? So compassion may not work that day. They didn't allow that to take place.

They didn't allow that to take place, but our goal is always to show compassion. And we tell our guys, I don't know that there's a ticket in Oxford under $200. I don't know that if we write you any citation on the side of the road, it's going to be under $200.

So take that thought and apply it to this. If I give them that $200 ticket today, they may have a child at home that doesn't get to sign up for OPC soccer or OPC baseball, or they don't get to go on this trip that the parents have been saving money for. It's not just a ticket.

It's greater than that. There's so many times that a word of encouragement, like we talked about earlier, does more than a citation than punitive damages. Man, showing love a lot of times will pay itself forward. And that's what we want to do first. So we want to serve. We want to do it with wisdom. We want to do it with compassion, and then we want to create a safe and connected community.

And so when you study law enforcement, I was fortunate enough to be at the FBI when Ferguson happened, and we got to debrief that every day in our media class. And we talked about, hey, how did it go wrong? Why is there not a dialogue in the community? Well, you've got to keep your community connected. So we say, let's keep it safe and connected, because I believe we can do it both. It's not always easy, but I believe we can do it both.

And so we phrase it this way to our staff. I can keep your street safe. I can put that thing on lockdown, but I can treat you like a jerk every time I deal with you. And so you're safe. Your car's not going to get broken into.

Your family's not going to be victimized. But I treat you like crap. You're not connected to us. Now, equally, swing it the other way, and we can be really close buddies and go have lunch and work out, do all those things together. But I keep letting your house get broken into, or I keep letting one of your family members get harmed. Well, we're connected, but we're not safe. We have to find that balance.

And searching for that balance is no duck walk. That's a big deal. And you're listening to Jeff McCutcheon, and he is the new police chief here in Oxford, Mississippi.

Sometimes we do stories about our own town. And what a dilemma for that cop. And he said, sometimes you give a ticket, sometimes you don't. But those aren't the only two options.

There's a range of options in between. And that $200 ticket, and he said, $200 is the minimum here in this town. It's a minimum in a lot of towns.

That's a lot of money to a family. And so as you're writing that guy up for doing a 55 and a 40, and you have a chance to warn him, or a chance to take $200 out of the family budget, well, that is an ethical dilemma for that cop on the spot. What do you do? And how do you do the right thing? When we come back, more of Jeff McCutcheon's story, Oxford, Mississippi's story, and so many communities around this great country, here on Our American Stories. I'm Katja Adler, host of The Global Story. Over the last 25 years, I've covered conflicts in the Middle East, political and economic crises in Europe, drug cartels in Mexico. Now I'm covering the stories behind the news all over the world in conversation with those who break it. Join me Monday to Friday to find out what's happening, why, and what it all means. Follow The Global Story from the BBC wherever you listen to podcasts. And as always, I'll see you in the next episode of Our American Stories. And we continue with Our American Stories.

Now let's continue with Jeff McCutcheon and his story. What we know is this, if we put 80 of our officers out at one time, all 80 of them, they'll never see what the community sees on a daily basis, because there's 25 to 45,000 people here at any given time during the day. We need that connectivity. We got to have that trust so that they will talk to us about their issues, and then we got to go meet that need. And so for us, that's been our goal, that's been our vision, that's been our mission, and to keep it super simple. And for me, I try to make sure that the life lessons that I've learned is what we apply here, because I've seen it, I've seen it work, I've seen it work in my own life. For me, every day, I start each day with a journal, and I start my journal with six circles.

And in those six circles are 1 Peter 5, 2 through 6, that's number one. Don't lord your position over people. You use your position to make it better for somebody else, and you do it with humility, let God deal with everything else.

Then Proverbs 2, 7, 1, 7, iron sharpens iron, that's my next circle. How am I sharpening myself as a husband, as a father, as an officer? I think that too often, we lose who we are. You know, I'm not just a cop, that's not who I am. I'm really proud to be a cop, I love it, I'm very proud of this profession. But at the end of the day, that's not who I am, it's just what I do.

But I've got to make sure I'm being the best version of that to my wife and my children. Because I can come and be the best officer that I can be for this community, but if I'm not serving them, I'm really missing the point of why I'm on this earth. I don't want my legacy to be here, I want my legacy to be left with them. It's happened, but I've only had one guy in all of the retirements that I've been to in law enforcement. Only one guy has ever stood up and said, I'm with the same woman that I started this career with. And I'm sure there's been a few that have, that didn't highlight that, but when you go back and you start looking at the retirements that you've been to, and you go, there's not many. There's not many that were able to keep their family. And I was telling the football coaches yesterday, I've been to some of the retirements where the kids aren't there, like they don't come, like there's, dad was a cop, he wasn't a dad.

And it's hard, it really is hard from a time standpoint and an energy standpoint when you deal with certain things here, and then you pick your kids up and you're just like, man, I'm mentally drained. But I think it goes back to that whole foreverness mentality of, if it doesn't have an eternal impact, man, you've got to be strong enough to get it out of your life, because your family needs your energy. And so the third circle is joy, so it's Jesus, others, and then you. And that sets that others mentality, and that kind of helps me remind myself, look, it's not about you, you're deep on the bench.

We got to do this for other people first. And then we crafted a little, the last three are kind of for here, positive culture. It needs to be positive up here. There are times when it's tough, there's times when it's dark, there's times where traumatic events happen, and it can change you for the negative.

And it can make you hard, and it can make you disgruntled and cynical. We want to be positive. We want to be upbeat. We want to make sure that you want to come to work. Because if you're coming to work and you want to come to work, and you're following that mission statement, we're going to get it right most of the time.

And that's the goal, is not to send them out frustrated, but send them out with a specific purpose and to know what that purpose is. And then questions are greater than reactions. For me, I know I've got to be patient, and I've got to ask questions. Hey, how did we get to this point?

What are all my options? We want to ask those questions before we make a snap reaction. Because again, I don't want to be a poor leader that hears information, snaps on somebody, and then come to find out, I didn't really get all the details.

Because I've seen it over my 18 years. These men and women go through so much. The toll and the scars that they endure for this profession, I respect that.

I honor that. And I'm going to do everything that I can to be the best version for them so that when we go through these moments, we don't make it harder on them. Job's hard enough.

The job's stressful enough. I don't want to be an extra one. I want to find ways to make it better for them. And then the last thing is just encourage. Every day, there's a way to encourage someone. Every day, these guys and girls are doing good stuff. We got to make sure we give them attaboys. We got to make sure that we have a system, a guardian tracker, that keeps up with positive and negative behavior.

Every day, we're trying to put something in that guardian tracker for someone to say, hey, we see you. You keep doing that. Because I believe rewarding that positive behavior instills what we want. And they are doing things so good.

And we are in a society right now where law enforcement is taking a lot of beatings right now. And for those officers that are doing it the right way and trying to make their communities better, we got to remind them that we see you and we appreciate you. Those are the goals.

Each morning, right beside that, I'll do a hashtag and four L's. And I tell my girls, that reminds me of my report card. So I want to do better. But it's faith, family, and forever.

And those are kind of my grounding points. It's very busy up here. And it's busy from the time I wake up, I'm reading emails and something's going on. I'm making sure we're doing what we need to be doing. That's the position I'm in, is to try to bless our community.

So when we see things, we got to deal with it. But in that time, I have to remember what I am. And one, faith is that navigation for me.

And I've got to make sure I spend time trying to learn and be the best leader that I can possibly be with the purest heart. And then my family, which kind of grounds me. They keep me where I need to be. Am I focusing on them?

You know, am I spending time, genuine real time with them? And then forever, I tell people it's foreverness. So if whatever I've got going on in my life, if it doesn't have a forever impact, I really need to move on from it. You know, I'll check social media, but I'll kind of check for what's happening quickly in the world and what the pulse is around Oxford. And then I try to get off, because whatever free time I have, I want it to allow myself to be spending time with my family, spending time with my faith. If it's going to draw me away from those two things, I need to get away from it, because it's going to make me poor up here.

And I need as much energy for here as I can possibly have. And so, you know, I think for me, those are the focuses, the simple things. I try to keep it simple. I'm not great when I'm trying to juggle a lot of things. I know that.

I know that about me. And so I try to keep my life simple. Last night I had a little free time, and there was a college football game on, and my daughter was getting ready to go to bed, and I thought, turn that off and take these last 15 minutes to just listen to her.

How was your day? What was going on? Instilling those things into her. And if we're not careful, we get so inundated with so much stuff that has no forever impact that we're going to get to the end of our line, and we wasted that dash. You know, that's my biggest fear is we've got this huge opportunity, not just as a police chief but as a husband and as a father, to make that dash impactful.

And I don't want to get to that end rope and realize that I wasted 25 years of my life with my thumb on my phone when I could have been doing something for somebody else. You know, there's so many needs around us that if we would just be open to it, just like that investigative case where I'm watching the video of this person, I don't want my eyes down. I want my eyes up looking for someone that we can make an impact on.

And you know, I want to do 10 more years, I've got to do 5, I'd like to do 10, and I'd love to pass the torch on to someone else and carry on that mission of another's first, as I feel like if we do anything in this world, we were all put here to make life better for somebody else. When they took the interim label off, and I became the chief, I sat in here one day and I just started writing letters to people that had impacted my life. And one of them was a coach, and he was a hard coach, he was stern, he was hard-nosed, but he took us to a different level than we could have gotten to on our own, than we could have gotten to with Justin and Kerger. I mean, you knew the line, you knew the standard, and you didn't cross that, and he made it so much better. And then there was another guy I wrote a letter to, who as a little kid, as a little leaguer, I never forgot this, we were warming up for an all-star game as a tournament we were playing in baseball, and the ball just would not land in my glove, I'd stick it there and it just wouldn't stick, you know, and so as a little kid you're emotionally so fragile, I was like so down on myself, and he put his arm around me in the outfield that day as we were warming up going, you're fine, calm down, it is okay, you know, you got this. And I wrote him a letter to say, you know, you have no idea that moment, what that did for me as a kid, that I now use for our people. And just like John would, sometimes you've got to be stern and here's the line, and then there's times you've got to know when to put your arm around somebody.

And you've got to develop a feel for that, you know, that's, there's no blueprint, that's a feel, and, you know, those guys made impacts on me that now I try to pay it forward to other people, but, you know, my thought is, you do right, you keep doing right, and then whatever happens, it just is what it is, you can always hold your head high. And you've been listening to Jeff McCutcheon, and he's the new police chief here in Oxford, Mississippi, where we broadcast a young police chief's people-first policy, Jeff McCutcheon's story here on Our American Stories. Our American Stories is brought to you by the World of Secrets, a brand new season investigating allegations surrounding the preacher, TB Joshua.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-11 04:21:45 / 2024-06-11 04:40:08 / 18

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