PARKERSBURG - The Wood County Sheriff's Office released its annual progress report for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The sheriff's office emphasized the teamwork and collaboration among law enforcement, citizens and government agencies.
"Over the past year, the Wood County Sheriff's Office has been proactive about crime and to improve our service," said Sheriff Jeff Sandy in his message to citizens.
During the past year, the department introduced programs such as "Are You OK" and "KidPrint ID" for senior citizens and children. According to Sandy, the office has been rich in tradition, honor and bravery since 1977.
"Whether working a murder investigation, vehicle accident, transporting an arrestee, protecting the courts, collecting taxes or helping you with driving directions, our professionalism is ever present," said Sandy.
Director of Administrative Operations Tom Smith is on his 35th year of employment with the office. During Smith's career he has served as a deputy and chief deputy. He has been the director of operations for the past three years. The duties that come along with his titles include federal grants, purchasing, payroll, budget management and much more.
Grant funding for the helicopter program was in full swing this year. The sheriff's office received a National Security Grant of $360,000 to equip the helicopter with technological advances such as a thermal imaging camera. The camera will allow heat seeking technology and is capable of detecting body heat, automobiles, heat coming from inside a residence, and so on.
Officials selected a radio for the aircraft that will be able to provide communications on three levels: to the sheriff and other law enforcement, West Virginia State Interoperable Radio Network and the State of Ohio Multi-Agency Radio Communications system.
Other grants included $24,000 to pay a deputy at Williamstown High School, as a prevention resource officer and a $15,000 grant allowing the sheriff's office to purchase new laptop computers to be used in the field by officials.
The past year was the third year the office has employed part-time workers. These employees have been responsible for dispatching calls, transporting mental hygiene patients and working with court security. The savings from hiring part-time employees has been $212,574, resulting in the ability to use a new hybrid vehicle in the transportation of the mental hygiene patients.
The sheriff's office has acquired more than $3 million in military surplus equipment, helping it save money and be better prepared for operations. Items included in this surplus were four Humvees, a commercial shredder and desktop/laptops computers.
In other news, the report outlined:
* Administrative operations recognized John Gragg as an employee with the office for two years. He is a transport officer who has made numerous trips back to back when assigned to the hospital for several hours.
* Confinement Operations recognized John Allen, a four-year veteran of the department in his eight degree black belt in Aikido and third degree black belt in Jodo. Allen is a training officer for confinement and transport operations.
* Public Safety Operations recognized Lt. Gary Parsons as a driving force in modernization to the office. Parsons has acquired equipment for the U.S. military the department had never been able to afford. He also assists deputies with computer needs, installs cameras, climbs towers to correct telecommunications and is still able to assist with the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force on Drug Interdiction.
* Tax Operations recognized Jenna Phipps for her completion of a detailed audit report for all of the department's Wood County bank accounts. For the past eight years Phipps has been able to compile the West Virginia Auditor's Office recommendations. Phipps has made the department stronger in her efforts.
* The Sheriff's Award was presented to an employee that exemplifies the term of a public servant. This year, Greg Brogdon did what was right for Wood County citizens on a daily basis. He graduated in the top of his class in forensic computer training, which has enabled him to investigate and obtain information in criminal cases.
* The Civil Process department recognized Cpl. J.L. Carpenter, manager of operations. The department consists of 20 employees, working in confinement operations.
* The Holding Center recognized Director Steve Stephens for supervising the 13 officers working in the department. Newest officers include Desiree Carpenter, reporting to the Regional Jail Academy in August, and Officer Brian Thorton, who graduated in May.
* The Home Confinement Department recognizes Officer Don Boley for better assistance with GPS tracking of anklets. Based on the efforts of Boley, the department is now one of only three agencies in the nation testing a new program for Behavioral Intervention Incorporated. Also, Chief of Public Safety Operations Don W. Dougherty for more than 30 years of law enforcement experience and essential service to helping make the community safe and crime-free.
* The Major Crime Unit recognizes Lt. Bruce Riffle for more than 25 years of law enforcement experience and his efforts in the criminal analyst team. The sheriff's office has also obtained Douglas Miser, a retired federal agent. Miser has assisted fraud prevention and training for both senior citizens and the Wood County Fire Departments.
* The Dive Team recognized the team effort in the search and recovery of victims of drowning and water-related search and rescue efforts.
* The K-9 Unit saw the arrival of Benji, a police service dog. Benji has tracked down marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin products and responds to his trainer, Deputy Mike Deem, but also to other officials when using the right commands.