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3 in the running for Benton County sheriff

Ken Lattin, Jerry Hatcher and Bob Brockman are seeking the appointment to be the next Benton County sheriff.
Ken Lattin, Jerry Hatcher and Bob Brockman are seeking the appointment to be the next Benton County sheriff.

Three candidates have applied for the appointment to replace retiring Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane.

Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Bob Brockman, Undersheriff Jerry Hatcher and Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin will be ranked by the Benton County Republican Party, which will forward its recommendations to the county commissioners.

The commissioners are expected to begin deliberating April 6 and make a decision by April 11.

The annual salary is $123,000.

“We’ve developed a good process,” said Jerry Martin, the chairman of the county Republican Party’s nominating committee. “We’ve got three good candidates for sheriff and we are setting up interviews right now.”

Keane is retiring April 1, about a year and a half before his elected term ends following a battle with cancer. His appointed replacement will have to run for election in November and again at the end of the incomplete term in 2018.

Our point is to forward the top three, which will be all three, but we will rank (them). We are going to focus on the interviews and their credentials.

Jerry Martin, Benton County Republican nominating committee

About 80 precinct committee officers will watch the interviews and vote to rank the candidates. Some precincts do not have a committee officer.

“Our point is to forward the top three, which will be all three, but we will rank (them),” he added. “We are going to focus on the interviews and their credentials.”

Bob Brockman

Brockman is running for sheriff to help improve mental health care for inmates, he said.

“I don’t believe the county jail should be the final resolution for dealing with county mental health problems,” he said.

He would like to see a separate, 25-bed secure facility created in partnership with a health care organization to provide treatment for the mentally ill, instead of keeping them in the jail.

“The jail isn’t set up to properly house them, and the sheriff’s office shouldn’t be treating mental illness,” he said.

The jail isn’t set up to properly house them, and the sheriff’s office shouldn’t be treating mental illness.

Detective Sgt. Bob Brockman, Benton County

Brockman began his law enforcement career with the sheriff’s office in 1986. He was a reserve deputy until becoming a full-time officer in 1989 and has served for about 27 years.

He has worked as a patrol corporal, SWAT team member, detective and patrol sergeant. He supervises 10 detectives and a support specialist, according to his letter to the nominating committee.

He lists more than 3,100 hours of training, ranging from marine patrol and middle management to homicide investigation and anti-terrorism training.

His awards include a letter of recognition for his work on the Bob Mars homicide in 2005.

He and his wife, Karen, have four grown children and three grandchildren. He spends his spare time with the Fraternal Order of Police, Freemasons and the Columbia Basin Shrine Club.

Jerry Hatcher

Hatcher’s top priority in running for sheriff is the continuity of leadership, he said. He wants to sustain improvement in numerous programs, from mental health care for inmates to recidivism.

He created a team of medical professionals and advocates to work with law enforcement to process incoming jail inmates in need of mental health care, he said.

“The bottom line is, what have we done? We are on the path to making it better,” Hatcher said. “I have (jail officers) coming in from all over the state to see how we deal with mental health so effectively.”

The bottom line is, what have we done? We are on the path to making it better. I have (jail officers) coming in from all over the state to see how we deal with mental health so effectively.

Undersheriff Jerry Hatcher, Benton County

Keane has publicly endorsed Hatcher as his successor.

Hatcher began working for the sheriff’s office more than 20 years ago as a reserve deputy and was hired to work full-time in 1994.

He worked patrols for two years, then was promoted to patrol corporal and began supervising five deputies. He made sergeant two years later, according to his letter to the nominating committee.

As a lieutenant, he oversaw the Support Services Division, and was responsible for maintaining the relationship between the Department of Energy at Hanford and the sheriff’s office.

Hatcher’s next move was to supervise five detectives before being promoted to patrol captain, where he managed 54 deputies. He was later appointed undersheriff and began overseeing 210 employees from six branches. He oversaw the completion of the third floor of the jail with a budget of $8 million.

In 2003, Hatcher was removed as undersheriff after two years by Sheriff Larry Taylor and demoted to lieutenant following an internal personnel issue. He left the department and did private security work before Keane hired him.

Ken Lattin

Lattin announced his bid at a news conference Feb. 28. He is determined to run for the office whether he is appointed or not.

He said he wants to improve the community’s relationship with the sheriff’s office and believes he has the skills to reach out to people and build a collaboration.

“It is about being transparent. It is about being able to listen. The sheriff needs to be part of what to do,” he said. “I can be the person to help the community.”

It is about being transparent. It is about being able to listen. The sheriff needs to be part of what to do. I can be the person to help the community.

Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin

Lattin began his law enforcement career as a police officer in Ellensburg in 1989 and joined the Kennewick force two years later, according to his letter to the nominating committee.

He is serving as a sergeant assigned to special operations and is the department’s public information officer.

Lattin earned a bachelor’s in organizational management from Ashford University, a master’s in criminal justice administration from Liberty University and is working on a doctorate in business administration, specializing in criminal justice, at North Central University.

He also is an instructor for the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission “Blue Courage” program.

With Kennewick he has served in many roles, from DARE and patrol officer to traffic enforcement and community services liaison.

He also has worked with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Benton Franklin Safe Kids Coalition, Columbia River Cowboy gathering, Special Olympics, Kennewick Police Officers Benefit Association and the Kennewick Police Management Association.

Bill Stevenson: 509-582-1481, @TriCityHerald

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