When Leo Wixom III was hired by the village of Archbold as an officer, he was not promised he would become chief.
But when Thom Ross, current police chief, retires officially at the end of his shift at 2 pm, Friday, Dec. 22, Wixom takes over the top job.
Wixom was hired away from the Fulton County Sheriff Department in January 2016 as a senior patrol officer.
He was named assistant chief in December of that year.
At the time, Donna Dettling, village administrator, read from the minutes of the council police and fire committee, which, in part, said, “The appointment of and training of Leo Wixom as assistant chief of police has proven advantageous in achieving our goal of stabilizing the department and maintaining continuity of command.
“It had been the plan when Leo Wixom was hired that he be trained to take on the chief roll when Thom Ross was ready to retire.”
In a later interview, Dettling said there was “never really a formal promise” that Wixom would become chief.
“There was no guarantee,” she said.
Wixom confirmed that, saying he was not promised that he would become chief when Ross retires.
“There was some talk of succession,” he said, but it depended on his job performance.
Village officials did not solicit other applications before hiring Wixom for the police chief job.
Wixom is a 1993 graduate of Fayette High School.
He attended Northwest State Community College and went through the Toledo Criminal Justice Training Center police academy offered at Four County Career Center.
His entry into the world of criminal justice started when he was hired as a parttime dispatcher at the Fulton County Sheriff Department, at the age of 20.
When he turned 21, he became a part-time deputy.
In 1995, he became a fulltime deputy, and served 21 years with FCSD.
When he takes over as police chief, he said he will continue the concept of community policing first officially started by Joe Wyse, former chief.
Community policing encourages officers to build relationships within the community.
“We have to have the community trust us to do our jobs. We have to be transparent,” Wixom said.
There are things within the department that can be changed to make the job better for the officers, and better for the department in general.
One of the top things on his list is training.
“If you don’t train well, you will not perform well,” he said.
In the day-to-day operation of the department, there are always things that can be improved.
Wixom said he will look for grant money from the federal government that can be used for things such as traffic enforcement blitzes.
Wixom said money is included in the 2018 department budget to continue membership in the Multi- Area Narcotics Task Force.
Archbold was a member of the MAN Unit, then dropped out. Wyse reinstated the membership when be became chief in October 2014.
Wixom said the drug problem can’t be eliminated, “but we can try to limit it to the best of our ability.”
In the 1980s, Archbold police cruisers were dark blue. Later, they were changed to white.
When Wyse took over in 2014, the first police vehicle purchased under his tenure was a black sport-utility vehicle.
Why not, Wyse said at the time.
So, what color will Wixom choose?
“We have three of each (white and black vehicles). We’ll keep alternating,” he said.–David Pugh