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Oxford swears in new police officer, approves land acquisition for affordable housing

Oxford Police Department (OPD) Chief John Jones took the stand at Oxford City Council’s Oct. 5 meeting to swear in the city’s newest police officer.

Kevin Martin, the newest member of OPD, graduated from Miami University with a degree in criminal justice. He worked for the Cincinnati Police Department for five years in the patrol division and on the civil disturbance response team and spent time as an investigator.

“We’re happy to have him,” Jones said. “He brings along with him a substantial amount of experience and training … He worked, of course, in many different situations, and worked in a very diverse community, and we’re happy to bring his experience with him here to Oxford.”

Martin’s hiring came after both written and physical exams, three rounds of interviews and extensive background checks including a polygraph test and psychological evaluation.

“We go through quite the process,” Jones said. “We take the oath very seriously.”

Martin said he had hoped to join the OPD even before the opening presented itself.

“I’ve had my eye on this city and this department for several years now,” Martin said. “I look forward to meeting everybody and working with everybody up here.”

Later in the meeting, Council passed an ordinance authorizing the city manager to purchase two acres of land off Hester Road for $150,000 for the Oxford Cottage Community Project. 

The project, an affordable housing plan, consists of a dozen 364 square foot, one-bedroom cottages intended for low-income seniors.

Community Development Director Sam Perry said that while councilors had questions at the last meeting about whether the cottages would be up to code, the ordinance is focused on buying the land only.

“It’s not a project yet,” Perry said. “It’s a land acquisition, so, the process of [development] will review any building code, fire code, zoning code, engineering, design [questions], anything like that.”

Oxford resident Steve Dana spoke in support of the ordinance as a good use of funds Oxford has received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

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“I rise in enthusiastic support of this ordinance,” Dana said. “In thoughtfully resolving to address the economic impact of COVID-19, the City of Oxford is taking a major step toward helping its most vulnerable citizens.”

The ordinance passed unanimously with little discussion from Council.

The next City Council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 19, in person at the Oxford Courthouse. Residents can also watch the meeting live from the city website.