Editorial: Westmoreland sheriff’s office raid shows problems
There is a problem in the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office.
For the second time, authorities have conducted a raid on the agency. It happened Wednesday morning when state police investigators swooped in, collected documents, questioned people and left two hours later.
“It’s not about me this time,” Sheriff Jonathan Held said.
It would be nice if that didn’t have to be qualified. But it does.
The last time this happened, in March 2018, it was about Held, who was subsequently charged criminally over allegations including having sheriff’s department employees work on his campaign on county time. He had a trial in December that ended in a hung jury.
He could be retried but is seeking to have the case dismissed while simultaneously pursuing reelection.
The problem is not that this has happened again. It’s that something like it has happened again and again and again.
If taxpayers are losing count of who is charged with what in the Sheriff’s Office, and whose case is where in the court system, well, that’s to be expected. The department seems to have a revolving door of comings and goings and charges and dispositions that is more in keeping with the people deputies should be escorting to and from jail.
There have been harassment charges and allegations involving drunken driving, drug use and suggestive texts sent to a teenage girl.
We don’t know what investigators were looking to find when they came into the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, but they reportedly walked out with six boxes and seized two computers.
Held said the issue is under seal. That leaves everything open to speculation, and unfortunately, the office has done nothing in the past year to curtail the imagination.
There is a problem in theSheriff’s Office, and it’s not just about the latest investigation. It’s about the fact that we have to keep qualifying the investigations and charges.
When you are talking about a law enforcement agency, the expectation is that would be rare. In Westmoreland County, it’s not.