During the years, Oxley thinks town residents have gotten farther away from their hometown police. Citizens are reluctant to call their officers unless they have a major emergency.
"I don't feel we were as accessible to the public as we need to be," he said. "911 is now in Charleston. We've almost lost that small town feeling."
Oxley wants to change that. Through the crime watch program, he wants residents to get to know their officers. He is setting up a Facebook page and an email system so citizens can contact police about anything from loud music or trees blocking streetlights to complaints or tips about drug dealers.
Oxley also plans regular community crime watch meetings, where citizens can come and talk with police about community concerns and problems, and where police can present information and helpful tips to residents. Each meeting will have a theme or topic that will be covered. Oxley hopes to schedule the first community meeting in September.
The latest addition to the crime watch program is a text-messaging system that went online last month.
Oxley said he and Capt. James Agee of the St. Albans Police Department came up with the idea independently, at almost exactly the same time, after reading about similar systems in a magazine article. Through the system, subscribers can get police department text messages or emails about anything from impending storms to alerts about accidents, emergencies or crimes.
Nitro used the new system for the first time last month to send pictures of suspects to citizens after a downtown jewelry store was robbed.
Oxley said it was a good thing that he and Agee came up with the exact same idea at almost the exact same time, because most people who live in the twin cities of Nitro and St. Albans can sign up to get messages from both cities.
Oxley also wants to get the good word out about the police department.
"I want to be accessible," he said. "We're going to do more press releases on stuff. How do the citizens of Nitro know what we're doing if we don't put it out?
"I want to get our reputation back as being the best-trained, most professional police department in the [Kanawha] Valley," he said.Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.