"We can best define you as a tyrant" - Benton County Deputy Sheriff's Guild Statement

The Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild has voted to no longer support Sheriff Jerry Hatcher and said they will not support him if he seeks another term.

A press release came out from the guild on Sunday evening, (though the letter is dated Jan. 31). They said they are “compelled to act in response to your [Hatcher’s] leadership by clearly stating why we can no longer support you.”

According to the guild, representing deputies, corporals, sergeants and lieutenants, they said they attempted to bring concerns to the sheriff during his term. They claim he did not make necessary changes and now worry about bringing the issues forward in the first place.

“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 statement read.

They claim the vibrant culture of positivity that permeated the place was destroyed after Sheriff Hatcher was elected and took office, describing the current office environment as  “depressing, stressful, and plagued with heavy negativity.”

“We can best define you as a Tyrant,” the guild said. “You exercise your power similar to that of an oppressive dictator.”

The guild claims many employees have retired or sought other employment due to Hatcher’s “dehumanizing method.”

Sheriff Hatcher has often self-promoted himself on the office’s Facebook page, the statement calls that a “complete farce.” Of the 39 counties in Washington, only Hatcher's mug adorns an official county Facebook page across the state.

“The BCDSG is extremely disheartened with your refusal to hold yourself to the same standard of accountability as you would a deputy,” they said, as later in the letter, the guild mentions Hatcher’s legal trouble regarding a domestic violence case involving his wife.

“A deputy would have been subjected to an internal investigation had they been accused of any criminal act similar to when you were charged in 2019 for assault domestic violence and witness tampering,” they said. “You refused to hold yourself to the same standards and refused to have an internal investigation conducted reviewing these allegations.”

The guild is asking for an internal investigation for what they claim is a violation of his policy and conduct, which they want to be done by a third-party agency.

BCDSG said the sheriff “shall not meet with any Benton County Sheriff’s Office Guild member independently.” They are requesting he must do it with a second member present or legal counsel.

No response as of yet from Sheriff Hatcher.

Here is the full statement:

Date: 01/31/2020

From: Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild

This letter is written on behalf of the Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild (BCDSG).  The BCDSG consists of deputies, corporals, sergeants, and lieutenants whom are employed by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. This letter is to officially inform you that after an overwhelming vote of our members, we can no longer support you, Jerry Hatcher, as our Sheriff.  We will not support you if you choose to seek a second term as Benton County Sheriff.  The men and women of the BCDSG understand the awesome responsibility that we have as peace officers and will continue to provide the best possible law enforcement service to those who live, work, and visit our community.  But we are compelled to act in response to your leadership by clearly stating why we can no longer support you.

We write this letter after much contemplation and discussion.  We regret you have left us no choice but to take this action.  We have attempted to bring our concerns to you during your term, yet you have chosen not to make the necessary changes. It is regretful because we are a team of dedicated professionals and taking this position goes against our nature.  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.

As with any organization, it is important to recognize the personnel who have selflessly dedicated themselves through achievement, sacrifice, and danger all in the name of public safety. Prior to you becoming Sheriff, each year we recognized those who set an example to us all.  Deputy of the year, supervisor of the year, and squad of the year.  We also recognized other special achievements and employee of the month.  Since you became Sheriff, employee recognition has virtually come to a stop and is a factor in the declining morale of your employees.  Since you have become Sheriff you have formed few if any relationships with your employees.

The posts you place on the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Facebook are often self-promoting and meant to show you as a Sheriff that cares for the community. This is a complete farce;  you in no way behave in that manner with your deputies or staff.  Your image is the only thing you are concerned about and it shows. We see you personally taking credit for the hard work and dedication of the members of this agency.  We feel that those accomplishments are achieved in spite of your leadership, not because of your leadership.

A deputy would have been subjected to an internal investigation had they been accused of any criminal act similar to when you were charged in 2019 for assault domestic violence and witness tampering.  Regardless of the judicial outcome, an internal investigation would have occurred.  You refused to hold yourself to the same standards and refused to have an internal investigation conducted reviewing these allegations.  Upon receipt of this letter we, as a unified Guild, request an internal investigation be conducted for your violation of policy and conduct.  This investigation should be done by an independent third-party law enforcement agency as to be transparent and credible in the fact-gathering process.

We feel we must take certain steps in order to address this crisis in leadership at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. From this point forward you shall not meet with any Benton County Sheriff’s Office Guild member independently. If you wish to meet with any Guild member it will be done with a second member present or legal counsel. This includes all ranks from Lieutenant to the lowest ranking deputy in our office.

To be clear, we will continue to serve our community in the best way we can with the resources we have. We will continue to hold ourselves and each other to a high standard of conduct and professionalism.  We will provide the service we believe each person deserves when they call upon us.

Respectfully submitted,

Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild