Sheriff Eric J. Weaknecht has been a member of the Berks County Sheriff's Department since May of 1984. As a deputy sheriff, he was first assigned to the Court Division and then to service of civil process.
In 1996 Eric was promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief Deputy in charge of the Court Division. His duties included the direct supervision of 28 deputies as well as handling all out-of-county transports, juvenile transports/juvenile court and the maintenance of the Sheriff's department fleet of vehicles.
In 1999 Eric was promoted the rank of Chief Deputy Sheriff. His duties were to assist the Sheriff in the overall operation of the Berks County Sheriff's Department as well as maintaining the budget and all the purchasing for the department. He was also the direct supervisor of the four Assistant Chief Deputies and the Real Estate Administrator.
On November 7, 2007 Eric was elected Sheriff of Berks County and was sworn into office on December 31, 2007 to a four year term effective January 7, 2008. Eric was re-elected in 2011 and began his second four year term January, 2012.
In June, 2012, Eric was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett to the Deputy Sheriffs’ Education and Training Board. The Board advises the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in the development, implementation and operation of legislatively mandated basic training and continuing education that serve as the basis for certification of deputy sheriffs within the Commonwealth’s 67 counties.
In July, 2012, Eric was elected by Pennsylvania Sheriffs as Treasure of the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association. The Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association works to crate and establish objectives to ensure on-going training for deputies and draft language to support legislation that clarifies the authority of the office of Sheriff.
As Sheriff of Berks County, he developed the following:
This program helps to find Berks County citizens with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Autism who have wandered away from home. Nationwide Project Lifesaver has safely recovered over 2,200 clients with an average recovery time of 30 minutes.
Streamlined Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms process:
Law-abiding citizens of Berks County, if approved, can receive their Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms on the same day they apply for one, reducing the wait time from 45 days to 0.
Berks County Sheriff’s Department Substation at the Reading Airport:
At this substation, citizens can apply for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms and file and pick up Civil Process. Parking at the airport substation is free.
Created remote locations to obtain a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms:
Sheriff Weaknecht opened remote locations in the following Berks County communities to make it more convenient for citizens to obtain a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms. These locations are open one day a month from 10 AM to 6 PM. Parking is free.
3rd Monday: Birdsboro Borough
3rd Tuesday: Hamburg Borough
3rd Wednesday: Wernersville Borough
3rd Thursday: Kutztown Borough
3rd Friday: Colebrookdale Township
Berks County Sheriff’s Department K9 Division:
In 2008, Sheriff Weaknecht established the department K-9 Division under a state grant. The Berks County Sheriff’s Department has two Narcotics-detection K9s, two Explosives-detection K9s, and will soon welcome an Arson-detection K9. All K-9s are patrol-trained and assist other law enforcement agencies in Berks County.
New Hiring Standards:
In 2009, Sheriff Weaknecht changed the hiring standards of the department to create opportunities for a greater number of applicants and to ensure that the most qualified candidates are hired. These new standards include: Physical Agility Test, Written Test, Background Investigation, Oral Interview, Voice Stress Test, Psychological Test, Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms.
New programs for the Children of Berks County:
Sheriff Weaknecht is always looking for ways to keep Berks Children Safe.
· He created the ID Me Child Identification program, issuing tens of thousands of identification cards to Berks County parents and guardians.
· He established a DARE Program for the first time in the Berks County Sheriff’s Department history. Since 2008, hundreds of Berks County Children have graduated the DARE program, instructed by Berks County Sheriff’s Deputies.
· He adopted S.K.I.P. (Sheriff and Kids Information Program). S.K.I.P. is designed to help Berks County children deal with issues such as Bullying and Strangers. It is conducted in our county grade schools and is presented by deputy sheriffs.
LoJack to help locate stolen vehicles:
Through Sheriff Weaknecht’s assertiveness, the Berks County Sheriff’s Department was the first Sheriff’s Department in Pennsylvania and the first law enforcement agency in Berks County to install the LoJack System in all marked patrol vehicles. This system helps deputies locate stolen vehicles. The Berks County Sheriff’s Department was the first law enforcement agency in Berks County to recover a stolen vehicle using the LoJack system.
Keeping Berks Safe through increased arrest and warrant apprehensions:
Through Sheriff Weaknecht’s strong leadership and his dedicated deputies, the Berks County Sheriff’s Department Warrants Division has cleared over 180% more warrants in three years. Wanted persons have been listed on Facebook, Twitter, Reading Eagle, TV 69 News, The Merchandiser, Comcast On-Demand, BCTV, and The Berks County Sheriff’s Department Most Wanted publication insert in the Sunday Reading Eagle Newspaper.
Berks County Sheriff’s Department Chaplain Program:
The Berks County Sheriff's Department Chaplain program was established by Sheriff Weaknecht in January 2009. Its purpose is to make counseling and pastoral services available to deputies, their families, other departmental members and citizens of our community. Our Chaplain has performed these functions within our department and has been requested by various families in Berks County.
Berks County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard Program:
The Honor Guard was established by Sheriff Weaknecht in January 2008. Its purpose is to honor fallen Berks County law enforcement officers both active and retired. The Honor Guard also represents the Sheriff's Department at special events such as the Washington DC National Police Week, Berks Law Enforcement Memorial Day, community parades, graduations, sporting events and award ceremonies. The Honor Guard is also available to and has served communities and police departments outside of Berks County.
Helping Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure:
Foreclosure Diversion Program – A team of judges, lawyers, court professionals, counselors and the Sheriff’s Department worked together for months to come up with a program for Berks County that helps financially distressed homeowners find a possible solution to losing their homes. Since the program’s kick-off on January 1, 2012, there have been 179 homeowners who have entered the program.
Explorer Post #027:
In 2012, Sheriff Weaknecht began an Explorer Poster for young adults interested in a law enforcement career. Named after fallen Berks County Deputy Sheriff Kyle D. Pagerly, members meet once a month with deputies of the department who provide information and hands-on training in many areas of law enforcement.
Sheriff Eric Weaknecht is a member of:
Pennsylvania Deputy Sheriffs’ Education and Training Board
Berks County Chiefs of Police Association
Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association
International Association of Chiefs of Police
Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association, Treasurer
Berks County Emergency Response Team (BCERT) Board of Chiefs
Berks County Criminal Justice Policy Group
Berks County Prison Board
National Sheriff’s Association
Pennsylvania State Police Camp Cadet
Berks Encore Senior Expo Committee, co-chair
The National Rifle Association (life member)
Berks Technical Institute (BTI) Criminal Justice Advisory Board
Crime Alert Berks County Advisory Committee
Eric J. Weaknecht