VINTON — Huntington-Morgan Crime Watch members heard two candidates for law and order positions in the Nov. 8 general election make their pitch for support during the organization’s monthly meeting on Nov. 1.
On hand were C. Jeffrey “Jeff” Adkins, who’s seeking a fourth consecutive term as Gallia County prosecuting attorney, and William S. Medley, in contention for the open seat as judge of Gallia County Common Pleas Court. Crime Watch members also heard from Dr. David K. Smith, who’s seeking reelection as county commissioner.
Adkins, who was appointed prosecutor in January 2004, cited his experience in pursuing such major crimes as murder and drug trafficking. He told the audience that drug addiction and offenses arising from its prevalence in Gallia County are a severe problem. That’s why he’s directed funds from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund overseen by his office to provide local police with needed resources ranging from K-9 units to newly-introduced body cameras for deputies.
“It’s a big deal,” Adkins said of the body cameras that will allow recording of traffic stops and other incidents to which deputies respond. “It will protect you as citizens and protect our deputies.”
The fund has also directed assistance to such organizations as the Field of Hope and Wing Haven, faith-based counseling centers to help individuals with drug dependence issues conquer their addictions, he said.
“I’ve got the experience to do this job, as well as a good working relationship with our local and regional agencies fighting crime,” Adkins added.
Medley, a former judge of the Gallipolis Municipal and Gallia County Probate-Juvenile courts, discussed programs he introduced in municipal court, such as computerization and mediation, and obtaining outside funds to aid the operation of the probate-juvenile division. “I’m good with money,” he assured the audience.
As a judge, Medley looks to creative sentencing as one way to address the problem as well as relieve stress on local jails and the prison system.
“I know the drug problem is bad, but sometimes the answer isn’t to lock everyone up,” he said, adding that as a judge he’d advocate a stronger presence for the court’s probation officers, alternate sentencing, obtain funding to send individuals whose addictions have placed them in his court to rehabilitation, “and deal with it in a more effective way.”
“I retired three years ago but was not comfortable with being retired,” Medley said. “I liked being a judge, and I believe it is a way to perform a service to the community.”
Smith said the role of a county commissioner is to ensure the resources are there to support law enforcement and the local justice system. While that takes up about 40 percent of the general fund budget each year, Smith said, it has resulted in the restoration of three investigators to the sheriff’s department and the placement of resource officers in Gallia’s schools, some of whom are either fully or partly funded by the school districts.
“We hope to continue our funding pretty much the way it is, but we want it to grow,” said Smith, seeking a second consecutive term as commissioner. “We try to maintain things, hold the line, and as the income increases, distribute it to the agencies. Law enforcement is my number one priority.”
Sheriff Joe Browning was on hand to mention some technological advances his office is employing to combat crime. He said he also looks to share statistical information with Crime Watch about the regional Drug Task Force and its role in stemming drug-related crime following some social media criticism about its effectiveness.
Deputy Jeff Provens informed the crowd that drug problems along Scenic Drive have been addressed, in addition to reporting on the arrest of an individual on charges from Franklin County. He also discussed the recovery of a stolen four-wheeler near Vinton, and how information obtained from traffic stops has led to search warrants that have yielded seizure of drugs and money, with criminal charges to follow. Chan, the K-9 unit assigned to Provens, has been utilized in 33 incidents to date, Provens added.
Vinton Mayor Josh Whealdon expressed his appreciation to Provens and the work he’s done in the area. “I couldn’t be more happy with him,” Whealdon said.
Huntington-Morgan Crime Watch will have its next regular meeting on Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Vinton Village Hall.