Life saved in part by Digital Ally in-car video system

On Friday night, March 27, 2009 the Thornville Police Department responded to a call of a man chasing a suspect after seeing him breaking into his neighbor’s vehicles on Foster Drive near Rodney Drive.  Police were in the area within minutes, but the suspect escaped the man that was in pursuit and was able to remain at large for several hours. 

The man was able to describe the suspect very well.  Chief Nick Garver as well as Officer Jamey Sickels and Matt Peddicord were on patrol in separate vehicles for several hours canvassing the village for the suspect, as this was the second night multiple cars had been broken into.

While on patrol searching for the suspect, Chief Garver utilized a newly acquired Bullard TacSight thermal imager that was provided by Homeland Security’s “Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program” or CEDAP.  Chief Garver encountered two male subjects walking on Veteran’s Memorial Drive, both fitting the description of the suspect the man saw breaking into cars earlier in the evening.  The subjects were identified and it was clear that criminal activity was afoot by the items found on their person and statements they made.

While questioning the suspects at approximately 02:01am, Perry County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Rob Stallings contacted Chief Garver via radio to inquire if a particular street was in Thornville’s jurisdiction.  He then indicated he has a male caller on 9-1-1 who is possibly in Thornville, and is likely having a heart attack, complaining of severe chest pain and difficulty breathing.  The dispatcher advised the man has been on the phone with 9-1-1 for quite sometime and they are unable to ascertain an exact location.

Perry County Sheriff’s Office handles all the 9-1-1 calls for the county with the exception of calls within the city limits of New Lexington, who has their own dispatch center.  Neither dispatch center has “enhanced 9-1-1 with GPS locating software.  Dispatcher Stallings then contacted neighboring Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office which does have E911, and was able to pass the call off to them and have them provide approximate GPS coordinates of the victim calling 9-1-1 by tracking the GPS enabled cell phone.

The Thornville PD also utilized two new Digital Ally in-car video cameras that were able to be purchased by a generous donation from the Buckeye Lake Moose Lodge.  The cameras are GPS enabled, and Chief Garver was able to compare the coordinates relayed by PCSO to those on the camera’s screen until they were close to the coordinates.

Once officers were in the general area, they activated the overhead lights on the cruisers and asked the dispatcher if the victim could see the lights.  After several minutes the victim stated he could see flashing lights, but was unable to guide police to his location, possibly because of his level of consciousness. 

PCSO dispatcher asked police to sound the siren so the dispatcher could see if he could hear our sirens in the background, and determine how close police were with that.  The dispatcher could hear the sirens from the cruisers, so officers got out on foot with the TacSight thermal imager and flashlights and attempted to locate the victim who is now reportedly lying on the ground somewhere.  The dispatcher was advised to dispatch the Thorn Township Fire & Squad to the area to assist with the search and to have a squad on scene when the victim is located.

Chief Garver, using the imager, was able to locate a heat source coming from the village park, and after investigating it, it was the victim who was semi conscious, clutching his chest, and having a difficulty speaking and breathing.

The victim, apparently suffering from an overdose of prescription medications, was transported by medic to an area hospital for treatment.  According to the dispatcher’s log, the victim was on the phone with 9-1-1 for nearly an hour with no clue where he was, and no other way to assist in obtaining his location.

Although the Perry County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain the GPS coordinates via Fairfield County’s E911 system, the closest PCSO could pinpoint using their software was in the area of Zartman Road, which is approximately ½ mile away.  A combination of the Digital Ally camera system and the Bullard thermal imager made locating the victim, and suspects from the earlier thefts possible.

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