Drakes Branch Police Department wins HEAT

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Drakes Branch Police Department (DBPD) was an agency award finalist in the Virginia State Police (VSP) 2015-16 Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) Awards during the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Conference on Sept. 19.

DBPD Chief Tommy Galbreath represented the department in accepting the award.

The HEAT Awards program is an annual competition open to all Virginia law enforcement entities and employees who work in auto theft enforcement and prevention. Nominees must demonstrate excellence in at least two of the following four categories: enforcement, intelligence gathering, prevent and recovery.

“Ours was to make the public aware of how to prevent cars from being stolen,” Galbreath said Tuesday. “Take your keys with you, don’t leave your doors unlocked.”

He said he also handed out pamphlets with information and key fobs, air fresheners and other items to help people remember. Galbreath said he even gave out bags of these items in Pamplin in Prince Edward County during the town’s Celebrate Pamplin event.

“We actually had no cars stolen during the fiscal year,” Galbreath said.

Even so, he still kept up with reports about vehicles recovered or other related activities.

“We’re just following the procedures HEAT asks us to do,” he said.

Galbreath said he worked with HEAT when it started in the early 1990s when he worked in Chesapeake. He worked there for 23 years and has been with Drakes Branch for last 11 years.

“Drakes Branch is pretty quiet compared to Chesapeake,” Galbreath said.

He said receiving the HEAT award is “not a super big thing,” but added it was nice to receive it.

“They gave us a trophy and some souvenir items. I think it’s the ninth or 10th year we have won an award. Some were first or second place, some were awards of recognition.”

Next up for Galbreath: working during Farmville’s hosting of the U.S. Vice Presidential Debate on Tuesday. It turns out Galbreath — who is Drakes Branch’s only police officer — has the only license plate reader in the region.

“So, they are really looking forward to seeing my car arrive,” he said.