Westmoreland sheriff wants to implement 'zero-tolerance' drug-testing policy
Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held said on Thursday he wants to implement a drug-testing program for new and current employees in the aftermath of a deputy's arrest in Pittsburgh on drug charges.
“People who do drugs and associate with drugs will not work in this office,” Held said during a news conference in which he announced a “zero-tolerance policy” for drug users.
The first-term sheriff's comments were made less than a day after part-time deputy Erika Ditch of Greensburg was arrested on Wednesday outside a Target store in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood.
Police said Ditch, 24, and Leann Wechtenhiser, 24, of Derry were using heroin while parked outside the store.
Held said Ditch was hired last summer and finished her training period in December.
Her duties involved monitoring female defendants in the courthouse holding cells and transporting them to courtrooms, Held said.
Ditch was immediately suspended without pay. Upon her release from the Allegheny County Jail on Thursday, she tendered her resignation, Held said.
Wechtenhiser did not work for the sheriff's department.
Ditch and other deputy sheriffs did not undergo drug testing when they were hired and are not subject to random drug testing.
Held said he wants that to change.
“We do not have any testing procedures as of yet, but I'm looking into it. It's already being evaluated,” Held said.
Negotiations with the Westmoreland County Court-Related Employees, the union representing deputy sheriffs, are under way.
Deputies are working without a contract while the matter is in arbitration, according to Chuck Dominick, the county's human resources director.
Dominick said drug testing for deputies is an issue in the negotiations.
Deputy Sheriff Steve Felder, who serves as labor leader for the department, could not be reached for comment.
Westmoreland County has been phasing in drug testing for some other employees.
Under terms of a labor deal approved last week with the county's park police, officers are randomly tested, Dominick said.
Probation officers have been tested for a number of years, and guards at Westmoreland County Prison are tested under a policy approved last year.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Group takes veterans, seniors in WWII-era planes at Unity airport
- Westmoreland, Allegheny United Way units complete merger
- Copper stolen from construction site at Greensburg museum
- Greensburg senior care center salutes veterans
- Greensburg torture killer Marinucci returns to court seeking lighter sentence
- 10 escape Greensburg house fire
- Business break-ins in Donegal area may be related, state police say
- 3 injured in crash that ties up Route 22 in Salem for nearly 8 hours
- Three teens injured in one-vehicle crash in Hempfield
- Unity to decide July 9 on disputed gas station
- $500K federal grant to pay for brownfield evaluation in Westmoreland County