OPD’s Jeff McCutchen plans to pick up where Joey East left off as interim chief

Published 2:30 pm Friday, January 18, 2019

When Oxford Police Major of Operations Jeff McCutchen was tabbed to be the city’s Interim Police Chief, he went through a plethora of emotions.

He was nervous and excited, and wasn’t sure if he threw up, cried and threw up again. Mainly, because he’s tasked with keeping the department’s culture steady as the man who implemented that norm, Joey East, is stepping down to campaign to be Lafayette County’s sheriff.

McCutchen will take over for East on February 1, marking the first time since 2013 that Oxford Police will have a chief other than East.

“It’s like who wants to be the guy that follows Nick Saban and Alabama,” McCutchen said. “Those are big expectations.”

However, McCutchen plans to match those expectations by pushing forward what East set in stone. This includes prioritizing OPD as a department with a servant mentality.

McCutchen understands how stressful it is to be an officer in Oxford, working weekends, holidays and long nights during football season. This is where spending time with officers, providing Police families a support outlet and following up with cases to check on victims can make an invaluable imprint on a community.

“If we’re 95 people in this organization, yes, one person may be the focal person,” McCutchen said. “But, that’s only one oar that is rowing in this ship. And it’s about all of us.”

As a 17-year veteran of police work, McCutchen can draw from his experiences as a supervisor over investigations, patrol officer, DUI officer and SWAT Commander to help him

But, McCutchen also said some of the lessons he’s learned as a man of faith, along side his police experiences, help him bring a passion for people to to his police work.

“It matters to me how I made you feel,” he said. “It matters to me if I made you feel important, it matters to me if I blew you off and it made a poor impression because I love this job. Like I love it and I love it for the tens of thousands of police officers that represent us everyday because anything that I do is a direct reflection on them.”

In a statement when McCutchen was named interim chief, East said he has “No doubt that Jeff will do an outstanding job while I am away, along with the support of our upper administration and the entire police department.”

McCutchen said he’s seen senior officers and retired officers be approached by people who say those officers gave them another opportunity, and sometimes saved their lives, just by the way those officers treated them.

That, McCutchen says, is the goal of the department. Even though it’s not something he can accomplish in a day, he wants to keep the standard.

“We want that gold standard,” McCutchen said. “That’s our goal, is to make everyone proud. Every one of Oxford proud of us.”