GALLIA COUNTY — Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin recently invited citizens of Gallia with camera and recording devices to partner with the office in hopes of compiling a database of individuals willing to share visual content with the office to make investigations more efficient.
“We’re asking people to tell us if they have a camera system,” said Champlin. “Say it covers the roadway, side yards or parking lots, they can disclose as little or as much information as they want to. Basically, we are daily using old-fashioned police tactics coupled with new technology. We’ll go out and do neighborhood canvases and, instead of saying ‘Hey, have you seen anything?’ we are asking if they have video footage. So, we want to cut that time down and give people the option to register and say we’ve got a camera system.”
The office will build an in-house database of listed individuals. If a crime is committed in a given area, the sheriff’s office can then approach individuals they think might have footage of a crime or suspect.
As an example, in 2018, area law enforcement partnered with schools and businesses in Gallipolis to create a timeline of convicted murderer James Allen Drummond’s actions while he traveled about the downtown area looking to dispose of evidence from a crime which resulted in the death of Robert Thivener, of Gallipolis. The video footage was subsequently used by Gallia prosecution as part of its criminal case against Drummond.
“Say there’s a crime on Bulaville Pike, we would already know there might be people with six cameras there, so we can go directly to them and ask,” said Champlin. “If we can even get a picture of a sticker in a window of a car on the road, it makes it that much easier to find because of specific descriptions.”
The sheriff said the program is not intended to invade people’s privacy and they can opt in or out willingly. The sheriff said the office can make use of footage from dash cameras, home security cameras and even trail cameras.
“Instead of having to go out and beat on doors, we can cut our time down and go straight to them and ask if they can check their camera and maybe find a blue truck reported at a crime scene,” said Champlin.
The program is modeled after another sheriff’s office in northern Ohio. Champlin said he came across a flier and felt it would be a good tool to utilize in Gallia.
“Based on the investigations we’ve run since I’ve been in office, just about every major one, we’re going out and trying to find footage,” said Champlin. “What better way to save time and become a force multiplier than to have something like this in place.”
For those interested in joining the effort, they can sign a form found at either the Gallia Sheriff’s Office or at www.galliasheriff.org under the community services tab and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.