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Sheriff Reed misfires

Prince Edward Sheriff Wesley Reed correctly blamed election-year politics for dissemination of an embarrassing photograph showing a county employee doing something other than working while on the taxpayers’ dime.

However, the context in which the photo was released makes what it depicted no less damning, and Reed would be wise to condemn the employee’s actions rather than defend them.

For those who missed Managing Editor Jordan Miles’ story on last Friday’s front page, the photograph clearly shows someone in the dispatch center stretched out beneath a blanket or other form of cover, straddling two chairs. It’s a disturbing image that diminishes taxpayers’ confidence in the public servants we are paying to protect us.

When Reed was asked to respond to the image, he chose to focus on the motives of the person who put it on Facebook. It’s fair enough for Reed to call out the photo’s dissemination as politically motivated. The poster himself conceded on Facebook that he is a supporter of the sheriff’s opponent on the November ballot.

But Reed could have cried foul without defending the unidentified employee, who the sheriff suggested might have been cold because of poor climate control in the dispatch center, or who might have been praying rather than snoozing.

If indeed the photo’s release is all about politics, Reed played right into his opponent’s hands with a lame defense that will cause voters to think twice before making their choice at the ballot box on Nov. 3.