Westmoreland commissioners announce drug-testing policy for prospective employees
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
All prospective Westmoreland County workers must pass a drug test before they are put on the payroll, the commissioners said on Monday.
Commissioners Charles Anderson, Tyler Courtney and Ted Kopas held a joint news conference to announce that a formal drug testing policy will be created and possibly implemented as early as this week.
Anderson said the policy shift is in response to surging drug overdoses in the county and last week's arrest of a part-time deputy sheriff for allegedly using heroin in Pittsburgh.
“We as county commissioners need to do something to try to work to move these numbers down,” Anderson said.
The county has no policy in place to test prospective employees. It employs about 2,000 workers.
The commissioners said all future workers seeking nonunion positions will immediately be required to pass a drug test.
Prospective sheriff's department staffers also will be required to take and pass drug tests, according to the commissioners.
“Our plan is to start mandatory pre-screening for the sheriff's department. We have to hold law enforcement to a higher standard,” Kopas said.
Sheriff Jonathan Held last week proposed drug testing for his staff. On Monday he said he backed the commissioners' policy but called it a belated effort to control the drug problem.
“This is a policy their human resources department should have had. I'm surprised the county didn't do this before,” Held said.
Held immediately suspended part-time deputy Erika Ditch on April 4, a day after she was arrested in the parking lot outside the East Liberty Target store, where she allegedly used heroin.
Ditch, 24, resigned from her job hours after she was released from jail.
Ditch, like all other county workers, was not drug-tested when she was hired.
The county performs random drug tests for probation officers, jail guards and park police officers. Negotiations are ongoing with the union that represents sheriff deputies to test those on the force.
Mike Stoltenberg, attorney for the Westmoreland County Court Related Employees, the union that represents sheriff deputies, said drug testing for current staffers must be covered in ongoing labor negotiations.
“If it's just part of the hiring process, it becomes less objectionable. It's not a big issue on our part,” Stoltenberg said.
Commissioners said drug screening should be required for all future county workers.
“It's common sense. We need to move in the right direction and make it part of the protocol for working at the county,” Courtney said.
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.
- Police say Latrobe woman bought gun for boyfriend, who shot neighbor
- ‘We Are FR’ fund going strong
- Murrysville woman sues Giant Eagle over burns
- Scottdale to reconsider use of complaint forms
- Bridge work a priority for PennDOT in Westmoreland
- Graziani hired away from Latrobe as Penn Township’s manager
- Judge explains why suspect in East Liberty killings was freed
- Hempfield church offers rides to shut-ins for Holy Thursday service
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied