The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is implementing a new program designed to help homeowners feel safe during vacations as well as long-term stays away from home.

Officer Camron Saltsgaver was the man chosen to head up the operation designed to deter criminals from breaking into or casing homes that seem to be vacant for an extended period of time.

“It’s a way for us to be pro-active instead of re-active.” Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger said.

According to Mellinger, this program has been proven successful in other agencies and it is something he has wanted to do in Jackson County for a long time.

Mellinger said that many times he has seen people posting on social media that they will be on vacation, or away from their homes visiting relatives, this gives criminals the opportunity to slide in and possibly burglarize the home. However, if a criminal sees a police cruiser in the driveway or an officer walking around the property, that may keep them from thinking they have an easy target and hopefully save the home from a potential break-in.

According to Saltsgaver, how the program works is a citizen of Jackson County, no matter where in the county they reside, will call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and report that they will be leaving their home for whatever reason, whether it be a two days, a week, or several months. They will then complete a Home Check Form over the phone, or stop by the Ripley office to pick one up, and that person’s information will be entered into a computer database. The officers on duty will receive that information each shift and once they have completed their regular shift duties, they will go to the location indicated, get out of their vehicle, and look around the property to make sure everything is as it should be. This will continue as long as the form indicates the homeowners will be away.

Name, address, phone number, location of property, who has a spare key, who to notify in case of an emergency, is there a garage or a storage building on the property that needs checked also? These are questions that will be asked and items that will need listed on the form.

“We know it’s not the end-all-be-all,” Mellinger said. “It’s not going to be the solution for all property crimes in Jackson County, but if you can knock down one or two a year, that would benefit everybody.”

At the end of the time indicated on the form, a door hanger will be placed on the door to let the homeowner know they were checked and their place was secure.

If by chance, a home is broken in to that had been checked, the sheriff’s office can pull up their records to see which officer checked that particular home and when, thus narrowing down a time-frame for the department to know when a crime might have occurred.

Both Mellinger and Saltsgaver feel this will be a great way to build community relations and let the public know that the officers of this county care about them and their property and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they feel as secure as possible when they cannot be home themselves.

Mellinger said the Community Patrol Program goes into effect immediately.

Anyone interested in signing up can send the sheriff’s department a personal message on their Facebook page under Jackson County WV Sheriff’s Department @JacksonCountySheriffsDepartment or by calling 304-373-2290.