Oxford’s New Police Chief Brings Experience and Dedication to Oxford
By Janet Stoica
Brooklyn, New York is where Oxford’s new Police Chief, Michael Daniels, originally hails from but that was his childhood home. His family moved to Westborough, Massachusetts when he was about five years old as a safety precaution said Chief Daniels. Apparently there had been a shooting in their neighborhood one evening. His mom immediately phoned his dad, who was at work, to tell him about the event. Dad wasted no time getting home quickly and packing up his family and their belongings. They were soon on a midnight ride to a cousin’s home in Westborough. After settling everyone into their new temporary surroundings, he travelled back to Brooklyn to tie up loose ends before returning to Westborough. They eventually moved to Clinton.
Chief Daniels’ first memories of meeting a police officer happened when he was very young and had gone to the grocery store with his dad. He managed to dash away from his dad while shopping getting himself lost and frightened. He remembers thinking that no one would help him find his dad when suddenly a police officer scooped him up in his strong arms to calm his fear. “I remember when he picked me up,” said the Chief, “I remember his belt, badge, patch, and calming voice and never forgot how kind and friendly he was. I felt very safe.” This experience made a lasting impression and that’s when he felt he had decided that being a police officer was going to be his life’s goal. He had made the connection between safety and the police.
Those who choose the challenging profession of police work are a special kind of humanity. Their traits are that of compassion, service to their community, preventing crime, patrolling neighborhoods, and dealing with more stress than just about any other occupation you can name. Whether it’s a major city or a small town, the officer’s daily role is never the same. They are called upon to be arbitrators and crime stoppers as well as liaisons to all age groups in their areas. “Social justice issues have prevented people from becoming police officers today,” said Chief Daniels, “Applicants used to be plentiful but events over the past few years have decreased the pool of candidates. Right now policing is not very popular and people can create narratives to hurt law enforcement.”
Chief Daniels was 19 years old when he began his job as a police dispatcher in Westborough. “I knew I wanted to be a police officer,” he said, “so I saved my money to get into the academy. After graduating from the Boylston Police Academy, I was hired by Bentley University as a campus police officer. Following that position, I became a police officer in the town of Bolton. When Westborough was hiring three officers I became their number one candidate. They never used Civil Service as they customized their own exams that were completely detached from the Civil Service area. Chief Daniels’ education includes a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Curry College and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Anna Maria College.
“I have always felt I’ve had a very successful career. For me, I’ve carried this service-minded mantra where I try to treat everyone with respect until they’ve given me a reason to doubt them. I believe in restorative justice where you give people a voice and it makes a big difference where you start seeing a change in policing. Officers have begun communicating more. It’s important to see police officers in other capacities serving their communities. Engaging with your local community is so very important.”
Chief Daniels related an experience early in his 22-year career with the Westborough Police Department when he was driving his patrol car during a very hot summer day and saw a gentleman walking along the road carrying just about everything he owned. “I asked him if everything was okay, learned he was on his way to a medical clinic, and offered him a ride. We struck up a conversation, talking about family and life in general, and then I dropped him off at his destination. That was over 10 years ago. Now fast-forward 9 years and I’m a supervisor at a traffic stop and I see this guy staring at me from a distance. After we cleared the traffic situation, I hear the guy say ‘Officer Daniels, remember me? You gave me a ride many years ago. I was on my way to a clinic but knew I wasn’t going to make it. I was going to commit suicide but after meeting up with and talking to you, I changed my mind. I’m sober now and have a wife, kids, and am happily married. I want to thank you for your time spent with me.’ ” Chief Daniels expressed his amazement and gratefulness of the man’s success. “Treating people with humanity and respect makes a huge difference,” he said, “it tells you the importance of kindness and how important our interactions can be.”
While at Westborough, Chief Daniels’ associates numbered 26 officers, 6 sergeants, and 3 lieutenants of which he was an Administrative Lieutenant and was also the Day Shift Commander. “I worked in a supporting role to the Deputy Chief and the Chief,” he said, “I was responsible for accreditation, policies and procedures, body cam requests, and social media. My goal was to be a Chief and to help elevate a community. One thing that struck me about Oxford is what I saw during the Selectmen’s meetings. There’s a lot of passion from the Oxford townspeople.” He would like to see accreditation for the police department and it was something he spearheaded while in Westborough. Accreditation will reduce the municipal insurance premiums. He will look forward to writing new policies, enforcement, and body cams which will protect officers while promoting better training.
“I feel very much a part of the community. I feel I’ve been well-received and could never imagine walking into a better position. It feels like a good match and I won’t let the community down,” said Chief Daniels.
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