Highland Sheriff’s Office Tracking Capabilities

Highland County’s remote location can create logistical issues for all residents, including law enforcement officials. While resources are available for assistance, it can also take extra time for these to arrive and be deployed, time which may be critical when the issue is locating a lost individual or a criminal suspect on the loose.

The Virginia State Police has a special tactical unit designed to respond to such instances – however, the unit is regionally based and must travel to wherever it is called. The need to mobilize response before assistance arrives is what prompted Highland County Sheriff Tim Duff to train and equip his department in man-tracking skills. The sheriff and all deputies have completed basic level training, and two officers have received advance training. The training includes compass and gps navigation, identifying and reading trail signs, noise discipline, weather observation and surveillance. Specialized equipment for the office includes camouflage clothing, light arms, navigational equipment and first aid and rescue supplies.

Sheriff Duff explained.

“Starting last year, we’ve become very active with the man-tracking training, which has already paid off tremendously. We are now becoming known in Virginia as being the only department that is fully trained from the sheriff right on down. At no cost to the county, we have provided equipment for the deputies and myself. We still will count on the State Police tactical team – they are still a very valuable resource, but instead of having to wait for their arrival, which could take two to three hours, we could be actively engaged within 30 minutes.”

Duff stressed that this training was not just about criminal activity, but it was vital when  hunters, hikers, children or any individual is missing in the area. He also pointed out that not only are his officers receiving training, but are acting as a teaching unit as well.

“The trainings that we’ve conducted here in the county, we have already hosted Pennsylvania, New York state – we are about to host the state police from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. So not only are we being trained and proving that the system works, we are now becoming known, Highland County has it’s name out there amongst the law enforcement community.”


Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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