Sheriff’s candidate John Horch addresses errors made during his tenure at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office

John Horch
John Horch

Horch told Clark County Today that he trusts voters to listen to his explanation of the errors he has made and then make their own decision as to who they want their next sheriff to be

When John Horch decided to run for Clark County Sheriff, he knew at some point he would have to answer for some errors that he had made during his three-plus decades with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

“I knew it would come up,’’ Horch told Clark County Today during a phone conversation Friday (Oct. 28) morning. “I am embarrassed by it but I’m not going to run from this. I didn’t want this to be the reason I didn’t run for sheriff.’’

Horch is facing long-time Vancouver Police Department veteran Rey Reynolds in the Nov. 8 general election. He said that he trusts voters to listen to his explanation of the mistakes he has made and then make their own decision as to who they want their next sheriff to be. “They can ask me anything,’’ Horch said of the voters.

During the campaign, Horch was aware that information was circulating in the community about some past errors in his employee files and performance evaluations. As a result of that, Horch instructed his employer to fulfill Public Records Requests about his past performance, even though he says he could have delayed the release of that information until after the Nov. 8 general election.

“A couple of weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I was notified that a public disclosure request was done by several people,’’ Horch said. “I was told they would not have to provide the information until mid November. I did not delay that, which I could have done. I agreed to release that information early before the election.

Clark County Today has 53 pages of documents that were released through a Public Records Request. Horch offered the full file, which he said was 695 pages.

“I have some things on my record,’’ Horch said. “It was my own doing. I’m not blaming anybody else.’’

Many of the things that Horch is referring to took place at least 18 years ago, during what he describes as a difficult time in his life. Horch said he has previously disclosed publicly that he went through a period where he struggled with his alcohol use. 

“I’m very proud of my career,’’ Horch said. “I’ve done a lot of good things. I have been proud to be a public servant and help people. Nineteen years ago, I did go through a very tumultuous divorce. At that time, I was a sergeant and I was demoted. I also knew that I was drinking too much so I decided to stop drinking and I joined a recovery group. I’m in recovery and continue with a recovery group still. I haven’t had a drink since 2004.

“It was not a good year for me both personally and professionally,’’ Horch said of the time of his divorce. “Fortunately, I had people who believed in me. (Former Sheriff) Garry Lucas believed in me and my abilities and in a way he gave me a second chance. He promoted me again several times and I have never looked back.’’

Horch said he has used his personal experience to help others.

“When I was going through that time, I didn’t see it as a good time, but I’ve used it to show that you can go through adversity and suffer things but you can go through it and make it a positive,’’ Horch said. “It turned out to be the best thing for me. I don’t mind saying that. I’ve talked about it publicly.

“I have used my story to help other people who have gone through things,’’ Horch said. “It’s not the end of the world. You may get disciplined but you can come out the other side and be the better person. That’s what I’ve done in my career.’’

Some of those errors

In a Performance Evaluation Form for the 2000 evaluation period, it was stated that “Deputy Horch took a gun into evidence at the scene of a suicide. He forgot to turn the gun into property, until it was brought to his attention that the gun was missing. He found it in the trunk of his patrol car. No formal discipline was given.’’

“I have no recollection but it must be accurate,’’ Horch said. “It’s not uncommon that we forget things. There must have been a reason I wasn’t formally reprimanded.’’

In an April 2004 evaluation (dated May 12, 2004), Commander (Erin) Nolan wrote that “in the late afternoon on 4-20-04 I opened an email from Commander (Chuck) Atkins that detailed a domestic violence incident that involved Sergeant Horch personally that occurred during duty hours on 4-19-04.’’ The report later stated: “following the Sgts meeting Chief (Mike) Evans and I spoke to Horch, who related that there had been a history of a dozen or more DV (Domestic Violence) incidents during his relationship with his wife. He was clearly emotional. Arrangements were made to have Commander Atkins take a report from him.’’

In response to that report, Horch said that “I’ve never been under investigation for Domestic Violence. There has never been any incident of that. There has never been any police investigation. It’s just unfortunate that she (his ex-wife) was actually looked at as the suspect and they decided not to charge her. But, I was never under investigation for a Domestic Violence issue.’’

Horch followed, “a year after the divorce, she was making allegations against me. There were so many things that were being said. I was upset. I asked (then Sheriff) Garry Lucas to do an investigation. They had an independent review and nothing ever came of it so there’s no credibility to those allegations.’’

In a letter dated May 27, 2004, Horch received written notice “of your probationary release from the position of Enforcement Sergeant with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office’’ effective that day. The letter informed him that he had “reinstatement rights to your previous appointment as a Deputy Sheriff II.’’ The letter also noted the involuntary demotion carried with it a new rate of pay.

Later that year, Horch admitted to removing two diversity posters from walls at two separate CCSO precincts.

“After I was demoted in 2004, I was back in the precinct and I did something stupid,’’ Horch said. “It wasn’t about diversity. I was upset about being demoted. I didn’t want to look at those in the precincts so I removed them.’’ 

Horch said he received a two-week suspension (without pay) for removing the posters.

“That was the end of me thinking I knew better than the department,’’ he said. “That was the same time I thought I better get some help with my alcoholism.’’

Horch said he later served on the diversity board at the Sheriff’s Office.

“I paid the price for it,’’ he said. “I moved on and I became a better person for it.’’

In the same 2004 evaluation, it was pointed out that Horch had previously been given verbal and written reprimands for his performance, specifically due to his failure to file reports. Despite that, the evaluation stated that “additional problems with reports have surfaced.’’ In fact, the Late Report from Case Management in December 2000 indicated “Deputy Horch was on the list six times.’’

A review of Horch’s evaluations also included several positive comments.

In a Performance Evaluation Form for the period of June-October 2004, one entry noted that “John’s many years as a bomb technician has made him a highly trained and competent part of the agency and the metro team.’’ Another entry stated that “John is a competent deputy. He makes prudent decisions regarding investigations and call handling.’

In the overall comments (summary) of the June-October 2004 evaluation, it was stated that “John has endured a year of personal and professional turmoil. John has maintained a very positive attitude since these setbacks at work, except for the poster incident. He returned to patrol with a positive and enthusiastic outlook.’ The comments concluded that “John is able to perform all duties of a deputy sheriff, but needs to use better judgment in some circumstances.’’

Clark County Prosecuting Attorney

Clark County Today shared the 53 pages of documents from Horch’s personnel records with Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik. Those documents included reports of the incidents described in this story.

Golik joined the Prosecuting Attorney’s office in 2000 as a deputy prosecuting attorney and became prosecuting attorney in January 2011. He told Clark County Today that he reviewed the documents concerning Horch’s performance. He stated that he had never seen the documents prior to them being provided by Clark County Today.

“I have reviewed the documents attached to your email,’’ Golik said in a phone conversation Thursday.

Golik also told Clark County Today he had no plans for a further internal review of the documents detailing incidents of Horch’s performance, “I just saw this (information) for the first time. I have no intention of rushing into any possible (review) process.’’

Golik was then asked if the prosecuting attorney’s office had ever disclosed any incidents of Horch’s performance to area defense attorneys in cases where Horch was a witness, investigator or presiding officer.

“Not during my tenure,’’ Golik said. “I don’t have any knowledge that was done before I was the prosecutor either. It’s possible something like that was done in the early 2000s. So that’s possible this office did that but I don’t have any knowledge of that happening. I can also say that I would expect that I would have heard about that happening and I didn’t.’’.

Golik was also asked if the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had ever recommended that Horch be placed on the Brady List. To ensure fair trials the Supreme Court of the United States created the Brady doctrine obligating the prosecutor of every case to gather and disclose all information about any individual upon whose testimony they will rely. The Brady List is considered to be the definitive public-facing database of information about police misconduct, public complaints, use-of-force reports, and more. 

“What I can do is I can give you a copy of our Brady policy,’’ Golik said. “I am willing to do that. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to make comment other than to give you that document at this point.’’

Horch is not currently on the Brady List for Washington state.

A source with extensive experience working with both the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office told Clark County Today, “this material should have been provided by the sheriff to the prosecutor long ago in any cases where Horch was a potential witness. 

“Under Potential Impeachment Disclosure guidelines, documented findings by the Sheriff’s Office that Horch mishandled evidence, had disregard for civil rights, and arguably showed bias should have been disclosed. The obligation for the Sheriff’s Office to provide this information to the prosecutor was established long ago by the United States Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland.’’ 

Rey Reynolds statement

Clark County Today contacted the Rey Reynolds campaign Friday seeking comment for this story. The campaign issued a statement that it has received many inquiries and requests for statements regarding released information of his opponent’s work history obtained by a previous public records request. 

The campaign stated that “Rey’s preference has been to focus on his own race and inform voters as to why he’s the best candidate rather than why his opponent is not. However, with the most recent discovery, Rey stated he can no longer stay silent on the matter.’’

The statement went on to state that Washington State Law dictates that all “Complaints, Grievances, Investigations, and Misconduct Records” for peace officers be retained for the entirety of the officer’s employment, plus a minimum of 10 years after separation (RCW 40.14.070(4)). 

According to the statement, several members of the public have approached Reynolds stating that they submitted a current public records request for John Horch’s IA (Internal Affairs) file, and the response was that there was only one page in his file. According to the Reynolds campaign, the response was that “any other IA investigations which may have existed were previously destroyed.” The Reynolds campaign believes that based on the previous request, there are many more pages that should be in that file. 

“This is extremely concerning to me,” Reynolds said in the statement. “The public’s demand for police accountability and transparency has grown exponentially in recent years, specifically from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and now we see that the Internal Affairs records of misdeeds of someone running to be in charge of the entire agency, and the highest elected official in the County, have been destroyed. That’s exactly the opposite of what this community is looking for, and a corruption I stand against. 

“Peace officers are to be held to a higher standard, and when I’m Sheriff, I will ensure that ALL officers, whether they’re line-level or administration, and to include myself in the position of Sheriff, are accountable for their actions. I believe that the vast majority of the deputies at CCSO are good, kind, hard-working and well-intentioned peace officers, and I’m committed to making sure the public has every ability to see that for themselves, including by maintaining accurate and complete internal affairs files.” 


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Ann Donnelly
Ann Donnelly
28 days ago

Sincere thanks and appreciation to John Horch for his courage in discussing these personal and employment issues in a frank and open manner. Most of us at some point in our lives, including in our work history, make mistakes. When someone runs for office (a courageous decision these days), those events are fair game, and it can be argued that they should be. But few candidates I am familiar with have been so open and yet so personally responsible as John Horch has as reported in this article. Win or lose, he has expressed himself well on a challenging subject.

Samuel Keller
Samuel Keller
28 days ago
Reply to  Ann Donnelly

When a candidate doesn’t have the experience to be sheriff all they have is to throw mud. John is an honorable ethical man. But when you’ve never had to make a leadership decision or never been anything more that a school resource officer it’s easy to throw stones. This is just sad.

Wayde
Wayde
28 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Keller

If you are implying Rey had anything to do with this, you are wrong. I did the research and submitted the letter to Clark County Today. But the real question is why the press have not done their job. People have a right to know the truth about the man who wants to be the most powerful LEO in Clark County, and the press have failed us again.

Des W.
Des W.
27 days ago
Reply to  Wayde

Can you clarify why you didn’t request Rey Reynolds files as part of your research? It would be more complete to represent both the candidates side by side of their employment records if people need to know the truth of who wants to be the most powerful LEO.

W Fields
W Fields
27 days ago
Reply to  Wayde

.


Last edited 27 days ago by W Fields
Meagan
Meagan
28 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Keller

This wasn’t the candidate who “threw stones”. It was the citizenry revealing public records. The truth, confirmed by Horch. Maybe you should consider who is flinging mud in your statement above.

Wayde
Wayde
28 days ago
Reply to  Ann Donnelly

Past mistakes have consequences. Past mistakes can cost you your job, right to vote, right to own a gun, or ability to get certain jobs. John’s behavior shows him unfit to be Sheriff. Period.

WE THE PEOPLE VOTE RED NOT BLUE
WE THE PEOPLE VOTE RED NOT BLUE
28 days ago
Reply to  Ann Donnelly

Ann…Liars only want more power, more money and the highest position in Clark County and we can see that John Horch is Hiding a lot of Skeletons in his Closet from the Information that has come out about him. That is Why I am Voting for Rey Reynolds.

Last edited 28 days ago by WE THE PEOPLE VOTE RED NOT BLUE
Margaret
Margaret
28 days ago

“When John Horch decided to run for Clark County Sheriff, he knew at some point he would have to answer for some errors that he had made during his three-plus decades with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
“I knew it would come up,’’ Horch told Clark County Today”
“several members of the public have approached Reynolds stating that they submitted a current public records request for John Horch’s IA (Internal Affairs) file, and the response was that there was only one page in his file. According to the Reynolds campaign, the response was that “any other IA investigations which may have existed were previously destroyed.” 
“Washington State Law dictates that all “Complaints, Grievances, Investigations, and Misconduct Records” for peace officers be retained for the entirety of the officer’s employment, plus a minimum of 10 years after separation (RCW 40.14.070(4)).”

This letter by an apparent insider focuses on the pertinent records of misconduct once available, which seem to have mysteriously disappeared now that Horch is running for Sheriff.
Sheriff Candidate John Horch’s Internal Affairs record questioned

Since Horch has offered 695 pages to CCToday, I hope these pages will be obtained and released and made available to the public by CCToday soon. Ideally, they would have been available to the public prior to the primary election in August.

 

Last edited 28 days ago by Margaret
Mark Moore
Mark Moore
28 days ago

Ken’s article is well done. What is most unfortunate is that this race is now more about John Horch’s person character which indeed may be substantially redeemed, and less about the utterly failed leadership of the CCSO, which is anything but redeemed. 
The average voter concerned over crime in our community has recent actions by the legislature to scapegoat over law enforcement issues, when in reality the CCSO has had a toxic culture and failed leadership for a decade or more. John Horch is part of that failed leadership. 

Meagan
Meagan
28 days ago
Reply to  Mark Moore

Good point, Mark Moore. Thank you for articulating this.

Wayde
Wayde
28 days ago

Wow. What a cover up. Horch’s IA documents disappeared and now suddenly they reappear. Sounds like the Watergate coverup when Nixon released only parts of his documents. Sounds like the PA is not interested in finding the truth either.

Margaret
Margaret
27 days ago
Reply to  Wayde

“A couple of weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I was notified that a public disclosure request was done by several people,’’ Horch said. “I was told they would not have to provide the information until mid November. I did not delay that, which I could have done. I agreed to release that information early before the election.”
All public records requests have a date. What were the dates of the public records requests?
Agencies are to respond to a records request in 5 business days. Sometimes they make excuses for failing to deliver the records in 5 days, and claim it will take time to compile the information. The fact that the CCSO felt they could delay the release of these vital records until after the election testifies to corruption at the office.

On what date were the records released? Was it early, or after the ballots had already been mailed out? Did the CCSO permit Horch to choose when to release the records, and allow a mid November release date if Horch preferred that?

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is an excellent resource concerning access to public records and meetings for citizens or news organizations

Wayde
Wayde
27 days ago
Reply to  Margaret

I did a request in early October and they did respond in 5 days saying the records I requested did not exist… And why would the dept notify Horsch there was a records request? Then his records disappear. This is beyond fishy
.

Meagan
Meagan
28 days ago

I would believe and empathize with Horch more if he had made these statements at the beginning of the campaign. It could have been a positive PR moment, affirming that people when people (even LEOs) make bad choices, if they work hard they can overcome and succeed. You too can become successful if you chose to over come an addiction. But no. It was by people stumbling onto these details and sharing them with the public that this information came out. Instead of being proactive, this is a reactive position, and not nearly as positive.

County Sheriff is the highest LEO position here. The Sheriff must be held to a higher standard, and hold his/her people to that same standard. Police can only regain the public’s support and trust through transparency, honesty, and doing what they do – Protecting, Serving, and Upholding the US/State Constitution. The 53 page document linked above does not include the IA records shown on the LifePac page. Why the difference?

So. Who is John Horch? A deputy who does things like purposefully insults a citizen during a Domestic Violence incident by saying “Jack Mehoff” was one of the deputies responding (see LifePac docs)? Or a deputy that made a few “errors”? It’s not throwing mud, it’s the truth. It may be years in the past but Horch himself confirmed that the incident happened. Do you want a Sheriff who makes such errors in judgement?

Margaret
Margaret
27 days ago
Reply to  Meagan

“The 53 page document linked above does not include the IA records shown on the LifePac page. Why the difference?” This is the link to the LifePac page with the source documents which are public records.
https://www.lifepac.org/ss1/2022/horch.htm

Rubicon
Rubicon
28 days ago

What most Americans who bother to vote, do not understand is: most candidates, including those in medium-sized towns to huge metropolitan cities are ALL fronted by Big $$. If US citizens could look at who is really in charge, they would see what Financiers, Real Estate and Banking folks are pouring out billions of $$s with mid-term and presidential elections. This is why millions of citizens no longer vote.

Carol
Carol
27 days ago
Reply to  Rubicon

Recalls are the way. Who ever doesn’t vote, deserves the government our Marxist candidates have created under the UN, NWO.
Was Horch counting of the ignorant public NOT to check his records? He is a city employee paid from our tax dollars. Nothing should be hidden, especially if it is a law. With all that training Horch had, why wasn’t his behavior exemplary?
The person who lost his files should be fired! Do an investigation.

Everyone should check public records from time to time, especially when the someone submits something on public record, at the council meetings and school boards. The county website is not so user friendly. Call the clerk to help you find it. When the councils have public records and do nothing with the information, they can be held liable. Imperative we all do this.

We need to clean up the voter fraud first in our county. Brett Simpson can do that! In masses we still have power and can take our local councils and school boards back.
Vote for Reynolds.

Brett
Brett
27 days ago

It’s disturbing when it is essentially impossible to know what to believe. My vote wasn’t for John Horch, but for reasons unrelated to this story…and so…your vote should be for whom you have the most faith to carry out the work of the office. Take care folks and God bless!

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