GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning will be seeking another term in office and will appear on the March 15 primary ballot.
Sheriff Browning started his career in law enforcement in 1987 serving as a corrections officer under then Gallia County Sheriff James Montgomery. He worked in the jail, as a road patrol officer, a shift sergeant and a patrol division commander. He worked under four county sheriffs in his time at the office.
“In my time prior to be elected sheriff, I feel like my experience within the sheriff’s office has helped to prepare me and aid me in managing the office and being able to effectively direct our county police in doing things that have been proactive,” said Browning. “I saw each sheriff as having their own style and personality that they brought to the table. When it came to being sheriff, I learned a lot from each one of them and I have tried to both use those resources and do some new things as well.”
Browning was elected Gallia County Sheriff in 2009.
According to Browning, state and rural communities in Ohio are seeing unique challenges they have not faced before. The prevalence of drugs in Gallia County has caused the sheriff to attempt to form coalitions with local churches, nonprofit organizations and behavioral therapy organizations in an attempt to combat addiction and the crimes caused by it.
Browning has been noted for his endorsement of crisis intervention training. The program readies individuals to handle individuals in high stress situations or who may not be in a standard frame of mind because of suffering an incident in an induced mental state or because that individual may have a behavioral health condition. He received the 2015 Crisis Intervention Team Law Enforcement Administrator of the Year Award presented to him by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in April.
“Not only was that a huge honor for me but also for our teams who participate in the CIT programs,” Browning said.
Browning has agreed with DeWine’s philosophy that it is not possible to arrest one’s way out of all problems. Browning has been part of coalitions seeking to provide better mental and behavioral health services to Gallia County inmates in the hopes that it will prevent them from staying the jail system and get them the aid required to put potential offenders back on a road to being productive members of society.
During Browning’s leadership, the sheriff’s office has hired new student resource officers to assist local school districts. County officers are also contracted out with local municipalities to provide protection. Civil forfeiture funds from drug seizures have been used to purchase new equipment for the sheriff’s office. New cruisers have been added to the police force’s arsenal during the 2015 year as well.
According to Browning, grants have been secured for the Gallia County Work Release Center multiple years to help provide alternative options to jailing as the jail facility is often full. The office has also received marine grants to assist in law enforcement endeavors that may take the sheriff’s office into the Ohio River. Browning also said the sheriff’s office had received multi-year overtime grants to aid officers.
Browning said he has made certain to operate within the sheriff’s office budget.
“We certainly don’t want to overtax citizens at all, but we want to provide them a service,” Browning said.
To him, this is why the sheriff’s office has applied for grants over the years.
Browning believes election season is not only a time to determine Gallia County’s law enforcement’s leadership but also a time to exhibit the strengths of the sheriff’s office as a whole.
Browning serves as a member of the Democratic party. His opponent, Lt. Matt Champlin, of the Gallipolis Police Department, is anticipated to run for the sheriff’s office as a Republican.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.