Headlines are meant to be attention-getting. They can also be misleading and sensational, as this one is — and as some readers apparently thought last week’s front-page “Heroin” headline was. Perhaps they have a point, but the larger points are these:
Heroin is having an impact on rural communities throughout the United States, and Rappahannock County cannot expect to remain somehow immune to this epidemic.
How big a problem this is — or may become — in the county can not be readily quantified, and is open to debate. Indeed, there appears to be a significant difference of opinion between Rappahannock County’s two most important elected officials charged with overseeing law enforcement here.
The sheriff believes that the personnel and time necessary to fully participate in the regional, multi-county drug task force are better used on other priorities. Her resources are limited, of course; and county residents have voted their confidence in her judgment on how to use these limited resources.
The newspaper does not question her judgment, but it is the duty of the newspaper to report any significant disagreement between the sheriff and the commonwealth’s attorney — whose job it is to prosecute the sheriff’s arrests, and who apparently believes that heroin and other illegal drugs are a threat that requires county participation in the regional anti-drug task force.
To this end, he has asked the board of supervisors to approve a new budget item that would fund a special investigator who would work directly from his office in cooperation with the regional anti-drug task force. The sheriff has indicated her opposition to this request.
What now to do is up to the board of supervisors, who represent the residents of the county and the readers of this newspaper.