Roane County has a real mess on its hands.
Last November, Roane County voters elected Bo Williams Sheriff. Williams had previously served as a member of the Spencer Police Department.
However, shortly after the election Williams went on leave when it was learned that State Police were investigating reports of drugs stolen from the police evidence locker. Williams reportedly checked into a drug rehab facility.
After rehab, he returned to Roane County and was sworn in last week as the new sheriff, perhaps hoping that since he had sought treatment and because he had not been charged that the controversy would die down.
It has not.
Roane County Prosecuting Attorney Josh Downey has gotten a temporary court order barring Williams from entering the sheriff’s office or the tax office. Meanwhile, Williams turned himself in to the State Police to face a charge of grand larceny. He has been released on bond.
Downey says Williams confessed to him some time ago that he had become addicted to methamphetamine, and he took meth from the evidence locker. Downey has since removed himself from the investigation because he’s now a witness.
The Roane County Commission has apparently had enough and has started the process to remove Williams from office. Williams told WSAZ TV that he intends to serve as sheriff, despite the criminal charge and his battle with drug addiction.
That’s not going to happen, nor should it. Yes, Williams has a presumption of innocence, but the evidence against him is overwhelming. How can the Roane County sheriff’s department investigate and prosecute drug cases, or any crime for that matter, when the head of that department is under this cloud?
Downey says he has already had to drop charges in two drug cases that Williams investigated and its likely more drug suspects will get off the hook because Williams was one of the arresting officers.
At its core, this story illustrates no one is immune from the drug addiction crisis, even if they wear a badge. Bo Williams has sought help for his addiction and the hope is that he will be able to stay clean and have a productive life.
However, his actions have disqualified him from serving as a leading law enforcement officer. For the good of the county, and ultimately himself, he needs to step aside now.