YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio (WDTN) – It’s been a month since the new police chief took over in Yellow Springs and residents are happy with the change.
Police Chief Brian Carlson says his biggest accomplishments so far are changing dress code policy and building key relationships with the community.
“We made policy changes in attire, tattoo policy and hair. I think officers should be able to express themselves in the community they work,” said Carlson.
2 NEWS reporter Maytal Levi walked through the village with Carlson Monday afternoon and watched as dozens of people chatted up the new chief who seems to know many residents on a first name basis.
“Officers need to as best as they can know the beat the serve, know the people, the community, and the residents,” he said. A philosophy he’s instilling his department.
“You walk around, talk to people and say, ‘You need help?’, ‘You guys okay?’, ‘How is everything going?’. Rather than that occupying force command presence that is instilled in us as officers,” said Carlson.
Carlson was tapped as the new police chief after an incident on New Year’s Eve that resulted in the resignation of the previous chief, David Hale. During the village’s ball drop celebration an officer discharged a taser at a man and missed. Some residents were upset about the “aggressive manner officers used” to break up the annual celebration.
“The biggest issue coming into this in the interim six months ago was the loss of trust that the community expressed with the department,” said Carlson.
Now, Carlson hopes to bridge the gap with the community.
“Once we regain the trust we have to continually work to keep it. We can lose it as easily as we gain it,” he said.
Yellow Springs resident John Brennan has lived in the village for 22 years and is pleased with the man behind the badge.
“People are happier with what is going on. There’s a change in the style of policing. People are not being stopped and having to go through their pockets just cause they’re going through an alley at 11 at night,” said Brennan.
Dino’s Cappuccinos owner, Dino Pallotta has been in business for 19 years. He’s pleased with the direction the department is going.
‘we have had communication issues in the past and that’s the issue, open dialogue. That’s what Chief Carlson is bringing here, the open dialogue. Carlson is very open minded and we have had some chiefs who are not but Carlson has been involved more meeting with businesses and keeping communication open,” said Pallotta.
As for the challenges facing the community, Carlson hopes the village can tackle them alongside the police department.
“We have a mental health issue and substance abuse issue like many communities in the Miami Valley. In five years I would like to see that as something the community is involved with equally with law enforcement,” he said.
Carlson is also hopeful for more resources in the near future.
“I would like to see us have a replenishment of the amount of officers we had. The force has been cut in half in recent years. So, we have officers that have to work alone some shifts. I don’t like that,” said Carlson.