Ex-lawmen sworn in as Benton Co. officials

KENNEWICK -- Three Benton County law enforcement officers received standing ovations Wednesday from a packed courtroom of friends, family and fellow officers as they were sworn in as Benton County's three newest elected officials.

Count Commissioner Shon Small, Sheriff Steve Keane and Coroner John Hansens were sworn in by Superior Court Judge Carrie Runge, who said, "The citizens of Benton County are very fortunate to have elected these men."

Hansens started working for the Richland Police Department in 1978 and spent 21 of those years as a detective, Runge said. He retired in November.

Hansens said he's been familiarizing himself with the coroner's office for the past month with the staff's help. He said he's still thinking about potential changes in how to operate the office while staying within budget.

"I'm going to do the best job I can and people are going to be happy with the results," he said.

"I feel like a father giving away the bride," said Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor said before he told Small how proud he was of his work.

The sheriff's office will be losing an asset with Small's departure, but Taylor said he expects Small will succeed in his new position as county commissioner.

Small, the sheriff's office training coordinator, said he already has been discussing issues with Commissioners Leo Bowman and Jim Beaver. He's looking forward to his first official commissioner meeting Jan. 3.

Small said he hopes to improve communication between the commissioners' office and the various county departments and improve overall communication with citizens.

"I will lead by example," he said.

Taylor also handed over the sheriff's badge to Keane before Keane gave his oath of office.

Taylor, who has been sheriff for 12 years, told Keane, "You will be the best sheriff this county has ever had."

Keane, who became a sheriff's deputy in 1992, told those gathered, "I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead."