Photo stirs controversy, sheriff responds

Published 12:54 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2015


A photo of a person reclining under a blanket in the dispatch center of the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office is drawing criticism in the community.

The photo was posted on Facebook by Brandon Whitehead on Aug. 16, stating, “How safe do you feel with the current administration of the Prince Edward County Sheriffs Dept.? How well do you think it is run? Well, I have a very shocking and disturbing photo to share with you! The photo I am about to show you is a dispatcher curled up with a blanket and a pillow sleeping on the job. How safe does that make you feel?”

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Sheriff Wesley Reed, who is seeking re-election this fall, said distribution of the photo was politically motivated.

“A photo is there. They don’t know the circumstances about the photo or anything else,” he said. “I will say this, climate control is not very well at the sheriff’s office even in the daytime. My dispatchers run heat. So, if somebody being covered up with a blanket to stay warm, there’s nothing there to say that they were asleep or whether they were praying.”

“I run a positive campaign,” Reed added. “I’m not going feed into any negatives. That’s negative all the way around.”

The Facebook post encourages users to vote for sheriff’s candidate Brandon Cummings.

“This is going to eventually cause a innocent life to be taken,” said Whitehead in his post, which was shared over 45 times and drew over 50 comments, “or an officer in distress to be injured or even worse killed. Dispatchers are the communication center between the citizens of Prince Edward and the law enforcement officers.”

“At the risk of being accused of dirty politics, I would still like to say that I applaud the release of this photo,” Cummings said in a statement, “and believe that the people have spoken by looking at the amount of comments and shares this post received via social media.”

“I do believe it is the culmination of complaints going unanswered by the current sheriff on what could only be described as a massive safety concern — for not only his deputies on patrol — but to the citizens of Prince Edward as well,” he said.