Community relations is focus for village police

LUCKEY – There’s no big crime in the small town of Luckey – and that’s just the way Police Chief Dan
Whiting likes it.
Whiting, who has been chief now for about seven months, has no desire to tackle big city crime. He
prefers the personal contact with the residents that a small town police force can offer.
"Critics could scoff at small town law enforcement," the full-time chief said. But in reality,
his officers need very universal skills including community relations. "That’s one of the endearing
things about being in a town like this."
Whiting likes the fact that as he walks down Main Street, he sees several familiar faces and gets many
friendly greetings.
"You get a lot of one-on-one experiences with the residents," he said. And many of the 1,000 or
so citizens aren’t shy about sharing their concerns. "People are very forward with you in a small
That’s exactly what village leaders were looking for in their new police chief, according to Luckey Mayor
Belinda Brooks.
"He has a positive attitude," Brooks said, noting that the chief often stops to chat with local
residents and business owners. "He’s brought community policing back to the village. He’s out there
all the time visiting with everyone."
And the townspeople seem to like the man behind the badge.
"I’m hearing positive comments from many people," Brooks said.
As a chief in a small town, Whiting doesn’t have to worry about spending all his time on administrative
"If I had to sit behind a desk eight hours a day, it would drive me nuts," he said.
And so far, it doesn’t seem to bother any of the older townspeople that Whiting, at age 26, is a
relatively young whippersnapper.
"I haven’t really gotten any negative feedback for that," the chief said.
In fact, his age seems to have helped him in handling the biggest crime wave to hit Luckey recently
involving a slew of vandalism and curfew violations by local juveniles.
"I have a younger, fresher perspective," Whiting said.
One of the chief’s goals is for the police force to be more proactive with the town’s juveniles.
"That’s what’s nice about a small town," he said. "We have time to stop and see how our
juveniles are doing."
By doing just that, Whiting hopes to create a positive instead of adversarial relationship with local
"We want to make them aware if they have any issues, they can come and talk to us."
That recent wave of juvenile crime was calmed when Whiting and his three part-time officers became more
visible in the community.
"The officers I’ve hired on make themselves known," he said. "Recently it’s actually
gotten pretty quiet."
And that’s just the way Whiting likes it.
The chief’s other goal is to implement an auxiliary program, which would pair up volunteers with
part-time paid officers. That addition would keep criminals guessing in an otherwise "one cop
town," he said.
The mayor said Whiting is also working on starting a neighborhood watch program.
Unlike some other local communities struggling to keep their police forces afloat during financial
difficulties, Luckey’s force is doing just fine, the chief said.
"We have been frugal with our funds for several years and put ourselves in a position to ride out
the storm," Whiting said.
Whiting, who grew up in Wauseon and now lives in Sylvania, worked as a part-time officer in Luckey for
more than two years prior to becoming chief. Though he started out studying music in college, he
eventually switched over to law enforcement.
"Deep down, law enforcement was always my thing. It was just kind of a natural calling for me."