Inquirer piles on: Sheriff's office needs a closer look

Jewell Williams, who stands to assume a position that probably shouldn't exist

The Inquirer today echoes the Daily News' editorial from Monday about how the Philadelphia Democratic Party's response to Sheriff John Green's announced retirement is disheartening. Party leaders have indicated that they've found a replacement for Green (Jewell Williams); what they should really be thinking about is whether we need an independently elected Sheriff at all:

The sheriff is one of the city's so-called row offices that reformers and good-government groups have justifiably noted has outlived its usefulness. The office transports prisoners to and from court, conducts sheriff's sales, and serves writs and warrants.

Those are needed services, but there is no need to have an elected official handling them. The duties could be transferred to other departments and the patronage jobs in the sheriff's office eliminated.

Such a move could save taxpayers a chunk of the $12 million now budgeted to run the sheriff's office, plus the additional $2 million spent on overtime last year.

Again, as the Daily News indicated, we don't see tremendous reason to be optimistic that Council, which would need to take the lead in re-thinking the Sheriff's office, wants to consider change here -- it will likely go ahead and do what the party wants. But we are happy to be wrong about this. Who wants to be dubbed a "reformer"?

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