Benton County gets new sheriff after ex-sheriff ousted

A former sheriff’s supervisor who left the Benton County Sheriff’s Office over "horrible working conditions" created by his embattled boss is the new sheriff.

Tom Croskrey was temporarily in charge of the agency in fall 2019 when then-Sheriff Jerry Hatcher took a leave of absence because of domestic violence and witness tampering allegations related to his divorce, The Tri-City Herald reported.

Croskrey was unanimously appointed Tuesday by Benton County commissioners. The appointment comes two months after Hatcher was recalled with 74% of the vote.

Hatcher faced recall when an employee accused Hatcher of intimidating witnesses and public servants in investigations, retaliating against them, tampering with physical evidence and violating his oath of office.

He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has insisted he will be exonerated of any criminal allegations. He’s currently under investigation by the Washington State Patrol.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Benton County Sheriff recall effort collects enough signatures for ballot

Hatcher was the first Benton County government official and the first elected sheriff in Washington state to lose office in a recall election.

Croskrey said his top three priorities to make positive change as sheriff are to be a leader that has ethics, fill the current 13 open positions and restructure the department while maintaining accountability.

Croskrey will serve out Hatcher’s unexpired term through 2022. If he wants to remain sheriff after that, he will have to be elected by the voters. His first day as sheriff is Oct. 4.

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