Behind the Badge
France Griggs Sloat
Mike Couch was only 24 years old when he was named chief of Xavier’s police department in 1984. But the young man had known for years he wanted to be in law enforcement, and his experience in the U.S. Army’s military police had prepared him well for duty.
After coming to Xavier as an officer in 1980, he quickly rose to the top.
He eventually earned his associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Xavier—all in criminal justice—and he watched his department grow. Beginning with five officers, one patrol car and a one-room operation, it’s now grown to 18 officers, four cars, a fleet of mountain bikes and about 8,000 square feet of the former WVXU radio station building that includes its own dispatch center.
Little did he realize, though, but he was growing much more than a police department. He was also growing a family legacy. Both of his sons, Eric and Christopher, followed him into law enforcement—Eric as an officer in West Chester and Christopher in neighboring Norwood.
As a Norwood officer, Christopher works closely with the Xavier cops patrolling the neighborhoods around campus. Best of all, both Christopher and Eric are Xavier grads, too, Eric in 2005 and Christopher in 2003.
The elder Couch says he never coached his sons to be police officers and was surprised when both chose law enforcement. That doesn’t mean he disapproves. Quite the opposite.
On a shelf in his spacious office, decorated with collections of miniature police cars and figurines, Couch has added a favorite picture, a snapshot, of him in his Xavier uniform flanked by his sons in their respective uniforms.
It was taken in May at the police memorial in downtown Cincinnati after a parade dedicated to officers who died on the job.
“It was one of the proudest moments of my life walking with thousands of police officers with my sons who have chosen to serve their community,” Couch says. “It was awesome.”