It may seem kind of picky to the public, but in legal and official terms, it's 100% important.

Back on October 22nd, by a 2-1 vote, Benton County Commissioners took control of the jail away from Sheriff Jerry Hatcher, citing what they felt were issues with his handling of the facility.

Hatcher then revoked the legal commissions of some 85 Sheriff's Department workers whose jobs are primarily at the Justice Center. Hatcher said he will not be responsible for workers whom he has no control over. These folks work for the county now.

Commissioners have asked Hatcher to continue to commission new officers so they can carry out certain duties, one of them arresting people who turn themselves in at the jail.  However Hatcher again refused, saying he is not going to give powers to people he did not have a hand in hiring.

So now this means Kennewick Police will have to come down to the jail to legally arrest people who turn themselves in.  Many do not realize that at least 2-3 people surrender every day at the Justice Center, most responding to outstanding warrants.  Last Friday, KPD had to make 8 trips to the jail. Unless the jail officers are legally commissioned, they cannot serve warrants, or arrest people, among other limited duties.

City officials say the Commissioners did not let them know in advance or warn them that they were going to take control of the jail away from the Sheriff, even though it would have an impact on the city.

Sources say Kennewick officials are not pleased with having to take on this new job, even if it's only for a short  while. The transition continues, as Benton County will now become only the 8th county in the state who doesn't have their jail run by the Sheriff.

Much of the acrimony between the two parties, says sources, centers around the controversial divorce Sheriff Hatcher and his wife are going through.


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