Franklin County sheriff could face challenge

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 21, 2014 

This fall, Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim could have his first opponent in 12 years.

Pasco Police Capt. Jim Raymond has filed to raise money with the state Public Disclosure Commission and set up a campaign website to run for Lathim's seat.

"I just believe it's time for the sheriff's office to look at a new direction and give somebody else the opportunity to navigate it," Raymond told the Herald.

Lathim said he intends to run again and expects to make an official announcement in March. Both are Republicans.

Raymond has been a police officer for 31 years, all in Pasco. He worked as a detective in the department's major crimes unit in the '80s, then supervised a squad of uniformed officers from 1989-94.

After that he served as a supervisor of 10 officers with the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force at a time when the area was dealing with problems of cocaine importing and exporting, he said. The group's focus later moved to investigating methamphetamine trafficking.

Raymond became supervisor of all uniformed officers in Pasco in 2000, before moving to an administrative position four years later.

"I've worked through the ranks of law enforcement here in Pasco," he said.

Lathim said he doesn't understand why Raymond would have a problem with how long he has been in office.

"I think if anything it's a positive for people that I continue to do the job and move forward," he said.

The drop in crime in the county and passage of a three-tenths of a percent public safety tax, which led to a $19.5 million jail expansion and renovation project, will speak for themselves to voters, Lathim said.

"I don't know what he has to offer the citizens of Franklin County," he said. "I've been very effective in meeting the public safety needs over the years."

Raymond said he wants to establish a community-based policing program with the sheriff's office. Such programs build partnerships with other government agencies, businesses and community groups.

"We work with the citizens in the community and let them be a part of the sheriff's office," he said.

In 2008, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office became one of three law enforcement agencies in the Tri-Cities, along with the Benton County Sheriff's Office and Kennewick police, to be accredited by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The designation required the county to meet 144 standards through an 18-month process.

"He's from an agency that's not accredited, and he's in a management position that could have done something about that," said Lathim, who was elected in 1986.

Raymond said Pasco Police Department's policies are in line with the accreditation standards. He views accreditation positively, but said the department has concentrated in other areas.

"We just made a choice that it wasn't the right time to do that," he said. "We made a choice that we wanted to focus on bringing down crime and building partnerships in the community."

This would be only the fourth time in seven re-election bids that Lathim will face a challenger. But he said he welcomes the competition.

"That's what it's all about," Lathim said.

Raymond has raised $978 so far, according to the PDC. Jim Mathews of Pasco donated $525 of that.

Lathim has yet to file with the commission.

Filing deadline for the position is May 16. The general election is Nov. 4, but the candidates will have to run in the Aug. 5 primary if more than two people apply.

w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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