Thursday , January 11, 2018 - 2:16 PM2 comments
Editor’s note: A typo in a quote from Lane Findlay has been corrected. We regret the error.
OGDEN — Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson won’t seek re-election this year, and his decision has prompted a scramble among would-be candidates potentially interested in running for the post.
“While I will thoroughly enjoy serving the remainder of my term as your sheriff, for many personal and professional reasons, I will not be running for a third term,” Thompson, a Republican, said in an announcement Thursday.
At least four people, all Republicans, are potentially interested in running for the spot.
“I think it’s time for change in the sheriff’s office,” said Eads, who lives in Ogden.
Matt Bell, a former Weber County commissioner and former sheriff’s office employee, said he’s mulling a bid. Likewise, Lt. Nate Hutchinson, a 16-year department veteran, and Lane Findlay, a former sheriff’s department officer now serving as the public information officer for the Weber School District, are weighing candidacies.
“I’ve always wanted to run for sheriff, but the timing has just never been right,” said Bell, who’s “leaning really heavily” to waging a bid. He, like Hutchinson, expects a crowded field.
‘A LIFE-LONG DREAM’
In his letter announcing his decision, Thompson touched on his philosophy as an officer and sheriff, trying to balance the need to punish with the hope for reform.
“In my law enforcement career, I spent time on countless occasions in conversations with children, juveniles, adults acting like juveniles and many other good folks making the wrong choices and in need of some direction,” Thompson wrote. “In many cases, an arrest could have been made, but a conversation and encouragement was more sensible.”
Thompson, 55, didn’t spell out precisely what comes next, but he had glowing words at being able to serve as sheriff. “Serving as your sheriff has fulfilled a life-long dream for me and has been the most enjoyable and yet humbling experience or ‘calling’ that I have ever encountered,” he wrote.
Indeed the decision to step down was tough. Thompson, whose law enforcement career has spanned 30 years, started as a deputy and worked his way up the ranks.
“To everything there is a time and a season, and for us mortals, determining exactly when that time and season is can be challenging,” Thompson wrote. “Hanging up those guns and unpinning that badge for the last time is a difficult thing to do.”
Eads, who lives in Ogden, has worked for the Utah Department of Corrections for more than 14 years. He cited a need for more accountability in the sheriff’s office, criticizing, in particular, the secrecy surrounding standards governing Utah jails. The deaths of many Utah inmates, particularly in Davis County’s jail, have come to light in recent months.
Many sheriff’s departments “don’t want to be open and accountable to the public,” Eads said. “It shouldn’t be this big secret thing.”
Bell, a county commissioner from 2013 through 2016, served many years as a volunteer in the sheriff’s office, as a member of a search-and-rescue team and as a reserve officer. He later worked full-time in the county jail and attained the position of precinct commander in the sheriff’s department’s patrol division.
“I’ve worked in all different aspects of the sheriff’s department,” Bell said. Dealing with the opioid crisis would be a big focus for him.
Hutchinson, who worked two years in the Ogden Police Department before moving to the sheriff’s office, said he has to weigh family considerations before making a firm decision. Thompson’s announcement, he said, came as a surprise.
Serving as sheriff has “always been something that has been a goal,” he said. Hutchinson has served in many capacities in the office — as patrol officer, as a major crimes and narcotics investigator, in community policing and more.
Findlay, who previously served as spokesman in the sheriff’s office, attaining the rank of lieutenant, also has to weigh his options before deciding if he runs.
"What an honor it would be to be the sheriff ... but obviously a tremendous amount of responsibility to be in that position,” he said. “I've got to make sure it’s the right thing to do.”
Findlay, like Hutchinson, lauded Thompson’s tenure as sheriff. "He's been a great sheriff and has done a lot of great things for Weber County. He has been a mentor to me in many ways,” Findlay said.
If they run, Bell and Hutchinson said they would seek the GOP nomination through the Weber County Republican Party caucus process. Eads said he would try via the caucus and, failing at that, collect signatures and petition for a place on the GOP primary ballot. Findlay said he wasn’t sure which process he’d tap, if he runs.
Reporter Sergio Martinez-Beltran contributed to this story.
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