Benton County sheriff’s deputies describe sloppy record keeping for weapons, ammunition and weapons training certification in a 61-page collection of interviews given to the Observer. The interviews are part of an administrative review of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher requested the review from Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond after almost 14,000 rounds of ammunition and 2 firearms, all Benton County property, were discovered at Hatcher’s former home.
The findings are included in the review conducted by Franklin County sheriff’s investigators.
When asked to describe how ammunition is inventoried and stored, Benton Detective Todd Carlson in charge of training told investigators that “there was no inventorying policy that he knew of.” The detective said he would issue ammunition to deputies who needed it.
As to record keeping on firearm certification, the detective told investigators, that with multiple firearms trainers, “sometimes the sheets aren’t promptly turned in, or they are left in cars, etc.”
The detective said he often did not know who used the shooting range until he got a record.
Sometimes, the detective was told when a deputy’s weapons qualification was overdue, and he then had to track it down.
Several people had access to firearms records, the detective told investigators.
”There were a number of people who could access and make changes to the records,” the detective said, according to investigators.
Commander Jon Law said that, “There is a policy [for inventorying firearms], but honestly it is sloppy at times.”
The review was controversial from the beginning. The Fraternal Order of Police and the Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild pointed out the close working relationship between Raymond and Hatcher.
The unions said an agency outside of the Tri-Cities should conduct such a review.
Some of the interviewed Benton deputies pointed out that a criminal investigation into potential wrongdoing normally precedes an administrative review. Those deputies hesitated about talking to Franklin County investigators because they feared retribution from Hatcher. At least two deputies obtained “whistleblower” protections, Sgt. Jason Erickson and Lt. Erik Magnuson, documents show.
The two Franklin investigators, captains Adam Diaz and Monty Huber, told the deputies that they were consulting with Raymond and could not assure that he was not sharing information with Hatcher.
The review documents sent to the Observer are attached to this post. Investigators summarized their findings starting on Page 56 of the report.
In response to the administrative review, Erickson, who recently filed to petition for Hatcher’s recall, submitted a complaint in Benton-Franklin Superior Court (No. 20-250460-11) to obtain records he said were not provided in earlier requests.
Erickson asked for records of all communication between Hatcher and Raymond, and between Huber and Diaz and either Hatcher or Raymond.
Erickson had obtained an email written by Raymond to Hatcher, Franklin Prosecutor Shawn Sant, Franklin Chief Civil Deputy Jennifer Johnson, and Captain Ronelle Nelson regarding his public record request of April 17, 2020
In the April 20, 2020, email, Raymond refused to turn over the Administrative Review. He accused FOP attorney Alan Harvey of being “up to his usual antics” and “his usual crap” in making a public record request to obtain a copy of the review.
“We (FCSO) are not going to fulfill Mr. Harvey(‘s) request as this matter belongs first completed and placed in the hands of Sheriff Hatcher,” Raymond said in the email.
The complete Complaint can be read here.