KENNEWICK — The sheriff of Benton County was compared to a tyrant who cares only about his personal image in a scathing letter announcing a “no confidence” vote by a majority of the law-enforcement officers who work for him.
The Tri-City Herald reports that the Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild said it can no longer support Sheriff Jerry Hatcher after an overwhelming vote of its members. Those members include sheriff’s office deputies, corporals, sergeants and lieutenants.
The two-page letter — released Sunday night but dated Friday — said the union was left with no choice but to take this action. It was addressed to Hatcher and the county commissioners.
“It is regretful because we are a team of dedicated professionals and taking this position goes against our nature,” the letter said. “We also fear there will be retaliation from you, whether it be overt or subtle, and we are very concerned about the intimidation and retaliation this stance will likely bring to the guild members.”
The guild complained that Hatcher’s treatment of employees is “unprofessional and dehumanizing.”
Hatcher was appointed sheriff in May 2017 and went on to win the election that fall.
The guild vote comes three months after Benton County commissioners voted 2-1 to take the jail away from Hatcher, and four months since his estranged wife accused Hatcher of strangling her when she confronted him about an affair.
A protection order has been in place in the divorce case, which required the sheriff to surrender all guns, dangerous weapons and concealed pistol licenses.
He denied hurting his wife and said an investigation into the allegations was politically motivated.