BENTON COUNTY, WA - Efforts to remove Sheriff Jerry Hatcher from office are moving forward. This morning the Benton County auditor's office received a 317 page document outlining Hatcher's alleged misconduct.
The petition to remove Sheriff Hatcher from office was filed by Jason Erikson, a Benton County Sheriff Sergeant and law enforcement officer.
Last month the Benton County Sheriff's Deputy Guild came out strong with an announcement to recall their boss, Sheriff Jerry Hatcher, following two separate votes of “no confidence,” internal investigations surrounding discrimination and harassment and dozens of allegations against the public official.
Aside from detailed accounts of misconduct, the petition also includes declarations from eight different individuals speaking out against Hatcher.
In the petition filed by Erickson he states, "Sheriff Hatcher has demonstrated a pattern of willful misconduct, violated state laws and degraded the public’s trust.”
The document cites 26 Washington state law violations and says Hatcher also violated his oath of office.
The process of recalling a sheriff calls for four major steps: a ballot synopsis, approval from a Superior Court Judge, thousands of signatures, and finally a vote from the people.
Here's how it works:
The Benton County prosecutor's office will need to prepare a neutral ballot synopsis- a summary of the charges mentioned in the petition.
A Superior Court Judge will then go over the ballot summary and hold a court hearing with Hatcher and Erikson, during which Hatcher is able to dispute the claims.
The judge then decides to either move forward with all the charges, just some, or can also choose to throw out the case all together.
However, if the petition does get approved, Erickson will have 180 days to collect signatures from at least 14,000 thousand registered Benton County voters.
Once the signatures are gathered the recall would then appear on a special election ballot, leaving it up to the voters to decide on whether the Sheriff will keep his job.
Throughout this ordeal Hatcher has claimed he is innocent and told us the allegations are an attempt by organized labor to take over the Sheriff's office, as he is trying to hold his team accountable.