GALLIPOLIS — With the release of law enforcement statistics by the Gallia Sheriff, Gallia Prosecutor and Gallia Court of Common Pleas, law enforcement officials discussed what is going on behind the scenes with both new approaches and old challenges.
“There are a lot of things that we are now doing that may be new to Gallia County,” said Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren. “We’re kind of wanting to get that out and get people to understand what we do.”
“I think the message out of our office has been pretty clear since the very beginning that we were going to take an aggressive approach to our enforcement,” said Gallia Sheriff Champlin, “specifically towards our drug crimes which ultimately we believe would impact our property crimes.”
Champlin believes that Gallia’s law enforcement strategy is driving crime numbers down through “aggressive policing and a good working relationship” with the prosecutor’s office.
“When I look at our booking record for 2017, we have an indication that our booking numbers for our drug offenses are essentially up and those numbers reflect 384 people were booked into the Gallia County Jail in 2017 for drug offenses as opposed to 271 in 2016 and 359 in 2015,” said Champlin. “When I look at our booking record for the Gallia Jail for property crimes, which I believe you can draw the direct correlation between property crimes and drug offenses, we booked in 202 into the jail in 2017 for property-related crimes as opposed to 161 in 2016 and 314 in 2015. I believe that aggressive approach to going out and seeking out the criminal and proactively making the arrests and holding them accountable is in turn driving down the amount of crimes being committed against our citizens.”
Holdren pointed out those numbers also reflected the work of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Gallia-Meigs Major Crimes Task Force, Gallipolis Police Department and Rio Grande Police Department as local partners.
“This isn’t just a Gallia Sheriff’s Office operation,” said Champlin. “We have built relationships and continue relationships with our other agencies.”
“Looking back to 2015, we’re almost 100 more (search warrants) this past year than we did in 2015,” said Holdren. “When there is a case being developed, we work closely from the time the call comes in until we get an arrest and all the way through the prosecution. My office works closely through the investigation and anytime we think we can seize a cell phone, we get a search warrant…This past year we have put together 160 search warrants and reviewed those and got judges signatures and executed those. That’s typically just another piece to the puzzle of an investigation and often times gives us different leads and takes us in directions we didn’t know an investigation might take. The use of a search warrant is valuable and this past year we’ve used a lot.”
Holdren believes that using search warrants has ultimately led to the number of cases to present to the Gallia Grand Jury and have over 300 indictments with the jury meeting 13 times in 2017. The number is up from the previous year’s 233 indictments, according to the prosecutor.
“When you look at (years 2017, 2016 and 2015 prison commitments), the felony one, two and three offenses are very high,” said Holdren. “They’re all up over the last two years. One of the things that we tried to do this year…is trying to get convictions for those that are burglarizing and breaking into homes and obtain convictions on major drug offenders and drug dealers. We had three jury trials with three major drug dealers and were successful in those. Your felony one and two number is up significantly because of that. Our goal was to send dealers to prison and to try and rehabilitate or give opportunities for those that are addicts. The felony four and five numbers, this might sound odd, but I’m thankful that those are down because that is consistent with what our goal was.”
Holdren said he felt the county was better served by having addicts be held accountable by court staff to be sober and drug free by participating in drug court and getting skills and a job.
An upcoming edition of the Tribune will discuss the common pleas court programs and statistics with commentary by Gallia Common Pleas Judge Margaret Evans. For compete numbers of Gallia crime statistics over the last three years, refer to Ohio Valley Publishing’s Sunday Times-Sentinel crime statistics piece.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.