Tri-City Herald: We’re grateful for Lathim’s service and wish him well

With each New Year comes the promise of new beginnings.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in a change in some key leadership positions in our region.

Sometimes, those beginnings are by choice and, other times, by the will of the people.

One of those big changes for 2015 comes to Franklin County, where longtime Sheriff Richard Lathim is set to leave after 28 years as the head law enforcement official.

Lathim, who was first elected in 1986, has seen Franklin County evolve and change in his more than 36 years with the department.

Lathim is old-school, with a large contingent of North Franklin County residents still upset at his ouster in the November election. Lathim lost to Jim Raymond, a Pasco police captain with decades of service under his gun belt as well, but a seemingly more modern take on law enforcement leadership.

Whatever your vote, the majority spoke. Two of Lathim’s longtime right-hand men — Undersheriff Kevin Carle and Jail Capt. Rick Long — have chosen to leave. None of the three, let’s be clear, are using the word retirement. Each is taking some time to relax and contemplate the next step, taking a much-deserved career break after decades of service.

First elected when he was just 30, Lathim departs a relatively young man at 59.

Lathim leaves the helm proud of the stability he brought to the sheriff’s office. The crime rate has dropped despite a population increase. He helped champion a $19 million jail expansion and remodel that required taxpayer’s approval — never an easy sell.

Lathim, who says he is the longest-serving sheriff in the history of our state, wants people to remember that he always followed through on his promises and put the interests of the citizens first.

His time in office hasn’t been without controversy — lawsuits accusing the Franklin County jail of mistreating inmates are ongoing — but Lathim, in his typical blunt manner, says those accusations are unfounded. Anyone serving the public for nearly three decades is bound to have some challenges.

While we endorsed Lathim’s opponent in the recent election, we can surely appreciate the sheriff’s commitment and contributions to the betterment of Franklin County and his loyalty to its residents. We wish him and the others departing under this regime change the best in their endeavors and thank them for their years of service. It takes a special breed of folks to put service before self, and these three men surely did that, making the community the better for it.