By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is a new sheriff in town. Jewell Williams has been sworn in as Sheriff of Philadelphia and has promised to clean house. Williams is facing daunting challenges as new boss of the troubled city department. The Sheriff’s office has been under federal investigation related to alleged theft and fraudulent sheriff’s sale transactions.
Williams said some employees with ties in the department have already been dismissed. He promises to restore public confidence in the Sheriff’s department.
“We are going to be appointing and announcing a finance director, our under-sheriff in our administration, who is going to be working on open records and transparency,” Williams said. “That is our major goal and we are going to be making sure we clean that office up and make it better.”
The investigation pertains to the department under former leadership. Federal authorities filed charges in November. They allege a former accounting department employee, conspiring with others, stole money from Sheriff’s department bank accounts and fraudulently purchased properties at Sheriff’s sale.
The office is also responsible for transporting prisoners and security at the Criminal Justice Center. The cases at the CJC are often delayed because there are not enough deputies to get prisoners to the courtrooms.
“They are understaffed by 40 deputies (at the CJC),” he said. “Thank God nothing has happened over the last few years. Those are hard-working men and women at the Sheriff’s office. We are going to have to lobby to get more money to get more deputies in those courtrooms before we have a major incident.”
Even with a full plate on the table, Williams, a former Temple University police officer, state representative and veteran community activist, welcomes the challenge.