Opinion

Our Voice: Tri-City Herald recommends Raymond for Franklin County sheriff

The race for Franklin County sheriff is between an incumbent with a long, solid tenure and an opponent with enough police experience to make him a credible choice.

As much as we appreciate the job done by Sheriff Richard Lathim these past 36 years, we believe it is time for a new approach and Pasco Capt. Jim Raymond is a qualified candidate with a fresh vision.

We recommend Raymond.

Lathim certainly has the experience and he has served the county well. He is protective of his staff and that is admirable.

However, the status quo can continue only for so long before attitudes become entrenched. Lathim has been running the sheriff’s office and the Franklin County jail successfully for years and does not appear to see a need to make many changes.

Raymond, on the other hand, says he would focus on improving cooperation with other Tri-City law enforcement agencies and would bring a new perspective to the job.

In light of some disconcerting events involving the jail and the sheriff’s office, a different management style seems warranted.

For example, Lathim’s contemptuous response to a lawsuit against the jail shows an utter disregard to the public perception of his office.

A Seattle-based legal aid organization filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming mentally ill inmates in Franklin County are abused.

Lathim called the lawsuit a “bunch of lies” and later admitted he never bothered to read the report.

While it is understandable Lathim would disagree with the lawsuit, he needs to take any claim seriously. Especially since a mentally ill inmate recently died while incarcerated at the jail.

Mitchell Campbell, 26, apparently died of a seizure and was found dead in his cell. In light of this tragic event, Lathim should understand the public concern surrounding conditions at the jail. Having an organization from Seattle say the jail is among the worst in the state has a negative affect on the entire Tri-City community.

No one expects jail to be pleasant, but there are moral boundaries that need to be met.

Lathim’s cavalier attitude toward the lawsuit is concerning. Lathim has been a devoted public servant and has much integrity, but his style is blunt and can appear uncooperative.

Raymond and Lathim both have decades of police experience. Both are long-time residents of the area. In some ways their qualifications are similar. However, Raymond sees some differences between them in his willingness to be cooperative and that he has a different management style.

We agree.

Raymond appears willing to be more collaborative and is aware how much public perception matters to the office.

It is time to give someone else a chance.

The Tri-City Herald recommends Raymond for Franklin County Sheriff.

On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 10:03 AM, ng_tri@cci.mcclatchy.com> wrote:

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