General

Sheriff Jewell Williams Looks Forward to an Even More Efficient and Professional Sheriff’s Office in 2014

As I enter my third year as Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County I am encouraged by the successes of the past two years, and looking forward to even more positive changes to the office in 2014.

Last year was an especially busy one as we began our much anticipated transition from a system that depended mostly on the physical filing of papers and forms, to a new computer system designed specifically for our needs that will provide unprecedented efficiency and access.

We also rolled out our interactive web site and began sharing information on everything from real estate listings, to signing up for our ongoing workshops on How To Buy at a Sheriff’s Sale.

The latest figures for the site show about a million visits last year, and it will soon contain even more updates on process and procedures as well as links to other pertinent information and resources.

We’ve also returned close to $1 million owed to those whose homes sold for more than the debt on the property, and have added an extra day of sale per month to accommodate the demands of the court.Our new Bike Patrol Unit is putting on lots of miles as it patrols the perimeter of the Criminal Justice Center, and the three dogs that make up our first K-9 unit will be graduating soon and placed on regular duty to sniff out bombs and illegal drugs.

Our responsibilities are also expanding in 2014 to include the overall security of the newly built Juvenile Justice Center at 15th and Arch Streets that is scheduled to open in June.

This has created a need for more Deputy Sheriff Officers and from January 20th to February 7th, 2014, the application process for that position will be open to any person in Pennsylvania who has received ACT 11, ACT 120 or State Police Certified training within the past three years.

Meanwhile, thank you for your support and patience as we continue to make improvements and retool the Office of the Sheriff City and County of Philadelphia to be more efficient, transparent, and professional.

Finally, I wish everyone a wonderful New Year full of opportunities and progress.

Sheriff Jewel Williams Wishes All a Happy, Safe, and Vigilant Holiday Season

Philadelphia is an aesthetically pleasing city throughout the year, and the holiday season between November and January makes it even more pleasing to the eyes.

Unfortunately, it is also the time of the year when the scam artists, flimflam opportunists, and generally dishonest people trying to get money illegally from honest folks also seem to come out in droves.

At the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County, we regularly receive inquiries during the holidays from people who have been called by a creditor claiming the sheriff’s office has a warrant out for them and will come to arrest them if they don’t pay a delinquent debt.

These company’s and/or individuals usually go by official sounding names like Legal Recovery Services, which is an organization mentioned by a number of surrounding counties as being responsible for defrauding many individuals by using the “warrant” line to force you to give them money.

A common approach is to claim that someone has taken out an online loan in your name that has gone into default and you must pay up or face arrest from the sheriff.

First and foremost, if you hear that, you know it’s a lie.

The Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County does not telegraph the fact we have a warrant out for an individual, and we would never call up the individual to tell them we have a warrant. We would simply show up at the door.

Also, my office has no relationship whatsoever with creditors of any sort, especially when it comes to the enforcement of a non-court ordered debt.

Or, there are others who claim to have some special access to the sheriff’s office that allows them to get funds owed to an individual from a sheriff’s sale much faster than if the individual went through the process themselves . . . but you must pay them an often hefty upfront fee for the service.

I can assure you there is no “special access” or preferential treatment given any person making a claim on funds they feel are owed to them from a sheriff’s sale. The process is a simple one and generally not complicated if all the proper identification and paperwork is presented.

So, I encourage you to enjoy this holiday season, but also be wary of those who may be trying to become a Grinch to your good feelings by getting you to worry over something that is a lie, and pay to settle a problem that doesn’t even exist. 

Public Notice

To improve safety and efficiency of Sheriff's sales, starting with 2014 February Sheriff's Sales, the Sheriff will no longer accept cash at any mortgage foreclosure or tax sale.  Deposits on purchased properties must be paid by money order, certified bank checks, cashier's check or attorney's checks.  We will not accept personal checks.

In the event the buyer does not have the exact denomination in checks to make a deposit, the excess amount paid will be credited toward the balance due at settlement.

Any suggestions or comments regarding these regulations should be addressed to Richard Tyer of the Sheriff's Real Estate Department.

Sheriff Jewell Williams Offers a Personal Reflection on National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and a great time to make us all more aware of this challenging disease that is closely connected to the things we eat.

Million of Americans—including me—now take on the daily routine of battling to keep our blood sugar at an acceptable level while trying to work, take care of family, make decisions and simply live a decent quality of life.

I revealed that I have diabetes earlier this month on Election Day during a radio program on WURD-AM.

The looks on the faces of several others also sitting at the interviewers table ranged from surprise, to nods of sympathy and stern looks of concern.

It is no secret that diabetes can be managed through proper medication, diet and exercise, but too often those who need such information are the ones who tend to get it least, or too late, and Latinos and African Americans bear the brunt of those afflicted with the disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, a little over 25 million Americans currently have the disease, but only 18.8 million have been diagnosed which means 7 million are walking around with a debilitating disease that has the potential to take their life.

My mother, father, and brother have already succumbed to diabetes so I personally know the importance of treating it as early as possible, and the emotional havoc it leaves behind when a loved one is taken by the disease.

This year’s Diabetes Awareness Month is themed “A Family Affair”, because the effects of diabetes are felt by family members, loved ones, and even co-workers who will have to cover for, or take over for someone who has been hospitalized because of complications from the disease.

For many, unfortunately, the loss of a working member of a household—especially if he or she is the only source of income—can be catastrophic because it starts a chain of  events that can lead to the mortgage not being paid and the home eventually lost to a sheriff’s sale.

In order to prevent such a scenario, you must pay close attention to your health and the health of those in your household. 

If you suspect you have diabetes (an estimated 79 million have Type-2 Diabetes, which is often referred to as pre-diabetes) you should see your doctor immediately and start a regimen of medication (if necessary) that also includes diet and exercise.

I would also strongly suggest you try to create a plan that will cover your mortgage should you become sick, and find as many resources as possible to provide information and referrals to help you.

A good place to start would be the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) which can steer you to local organizations that may be able to help your particular situation, as well as point you to other support services.

I also encourage you to not take this disease lightly and remember that it’s affects go way beyond one person, and can include everything from losing a home, to losing a family member.

Staff Inspector Washington participates in Cops and Kids of Color panel

Staff Inspector Paris Washington of the Office of the Philadelphia Sheriff was a participant in a panel on Cops and Kids of Color at the 120 Annual International Conference held in Philadelphia.

“The panel focused on the disproportionate number of minority youth negatively interacting with law enforcement officials that result in arrest and how to reduce it,” said Washington.

More than 13,000 attended the five-day Conference and Law Enforcement Education and Technology Exposition held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center including Police Chiefs, CEO’s, federal officials and law enforcement officials.

Staff Inspector Washington joined the Office of the Sheriff in 1992 and has since earned numerous certifications and awards and promotions.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police serves as the professional voice of law enforcement addressing cutting edge issues confronting law enforcement though advocacy, programs and research, as well as training and other professional services. IACP is a comprehensive professional organization that supports the law enforcement leaders of today and develops the leaders of tomorrow.   

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