Paul Heimel

Paul Heimel

In response to Zigmund Reichenbach’s letter to the editor in last week’s edition, our board’s approval of District Attorney Andy Watson’s request to fill the vacant County Detective position on a provisional basis was not taken lightly.

Prior to a vote being taken, DA Watson agreed to summarize the results of the County Detective’s activities and present them to the Board of Commissioners later this year, when it comes time to consider extending the contract beyond the initial six-month period.

Mr. Reichenbach makes some valid points. Indeed, the Potter County criminal justice system has made some significant course corrections in recent years. We’ve learned the folly of locking up drug addicts and alcoholics and expecting them to miraculously recover while they languish behind bars, waiting for their release.

That’s not what the County Detective position is all about. Yes, drug investigations are an important part of the job. But they’re focused on attacking the county’s methamphetamine and heroin epidemic by tracing these drugs to their sources.

The message that is being heard these days is loud and clear: if you’re seeking to enrich yourself by peddling your poisons and personally profiting from the misery of hard-drug addicts in Potter County, you’d better think twice.

Will this strategy work? The jury is out. It has worked in other jurisdictions. We’ll know more in the coming months when the six-month assessment of the County Detective position is conducted.

Paul W. Heimel

Potter County Commissioner