CHESHIRE — Candidate for Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin recently addressed the Cheshire Village Council as well as the Huntingon-Morgan Township Crime Watch board to speak about his campaign goals and to listen to residents’ concerns.
Lt. Matt Champlin currently serves with the Gallipolis Police Department and has served as a former sheriff’s deputy and with the Rio Grande police force. Collectively, he has 17 years experience as a law enforcement officer. In that time, he has served as a canine unit officer, a meth lab technician, a narcotics investigator, patrol officer and law enforcement supervisor. Champlin told both the crime watch and village council that drug interdiction is his passion and he aims to make the lives of those in Gallia County safer from the health problems drug addiction poses, as well as lower theft rates associated with drug crimes.
Champlin wishes to make the area as uncomfortable as possible for drug dealers and make Gallia County an unwelcome place for those employed along the drug trade routes.
“I believe we have to create an atmosphere here in Gallia County that is not conducive to the drug trade,” Champlin said. “My passion is putting a stop to that … We have to create an atmosphere that Detroit drug dealers, when they’re sitting around their kitchen tables, find themselves saying that things are so tough in Gallia County, we’re going to have to set up shop somewhere else. We can take this county back, one drug dealer at a time.”
Cheshire Village Council addressed Champlin saying they would like to see more deputies present at the Gallia County Work Release Center as some had concern with offenders there being from out of county and that the serving population seemed to be much higher than the correctional officers present. One man on council questioned how one could know whether a nonviolent offender would not become violent at some point.
Champlin said he could not answer all of the questions asked as he would need to look into further research as well as the work release center. Ultimately, he said those who pay taxes deserve to have a “professional and courteous” officer as he viewed law enforcement to be a paid service. He said those who pay for deputy service should be able to see deputies respond in timely fashions and with the proper training. One of the the key points of his campaign centers on reviewing officer training techniques and initiation practices, he said.
Those who are put in the work release center are considered nonviolent offenders. Champlin said he would like to potentially put work release workers on roads collecting garbage and addressing other county projects. Champlin seemed to describe a program similar to what Gallipolis has initiated with nonviolent offenders being used to care for city maintenance such as cutting community grass.
Council members asked Champlin about contracts with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office as they were discussing an agreement to get an officer to patrol the community for 10 hours a month. Champlin said he would honor any agreements made with the sheriff’s office’s current administration. Some members of council felt 10 hours would not be enough to address village concerns. Champlin said it was important to make certain the village had its due police coverage in regard to a contract, especially if a deputy was pulled aside to take care of another issue outside of Cheshire.
Champlin said he has considered dividing the county into police coverage regions with commanders overseeing patrol deputies in hopes of remedying concerns like those of the council.
Throughout the meeting with Cheshire council members, Champlin stressed he wished to keep a clean campaign and refrain from attacking his opponent for office, incumbent Sheriff Joe Browning. However, he did say he would like to take the office in a new direction.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.