Yakima County sheriff will not run for re-election

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- There will be a change at the top of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office. As we first told you on Sheriff Ken Irwin announced he won't seek reelection.

"In the upcoming campaign for Sheriff, I am going to be standing on the sidewalk, sidelines," Sheriff Ken Irwin announced Tuesday morning.

Sheriff Ken Irwin told Yakima County Commissioners he's laying down his badge at the end of the year. He won't run for reelection.

"It just seemed like a good time in my life to say 'that's enough'," he said.

Irwin has been in charge of the sheriff's office for 13 years. His career in law enforcement spans 41 years with 36 of those here in Yakima County.

"I hope that my tenure as sheriff and my opportunity to occupy this office, that I'll be remembered as a good sheriff," Irwin said. "But, I really want an even better, better, better sheriff to come along."

Irwin points to the accomplishments during his tenure. He is a founding member of Safe Yakima Valley and the Yakima County Gang Commission. And, he took a stand to fight crime in the Lower Valley by creating a better substation for the sheriff's office and starting the group "Stand Up for Outlook."

"I've felt I've done a good job," he said.

But, his office has come under fire more than a few times. Failed promises on the use of the 3-tenths tax left people weary about Irwin's use of taxpayer money. More recently the sheriff's office took heat for the way it handled the West Valley triple murder case. Irwin took responsibility when we spoke to him about it in October.

"We feel like we have the one suspect responsible," he said in October. "We're left unsatisfied as is everyone else with the need for justice."

There were also allegations of eavesdropping by one of his detectives. That led to a new recording system and protocol. Irwin says the criticism isn't why he's stepping down. He plans to apply the same scrutiny to the people who want his job.

"I'm going to take a look at the field, see who they surround themselves with as backers, who they're taking advice from, look at their record just like any other voter," Sheriff Irwin said. "I'm going to be very critical."

Critical, but hopeful the next sheriff will be up to the job.

Sheriff Irwin says he will take time off to travel and write a book about his experiences as sheriff. He hasn't ruled out going back to work on a smaller scale after a couple of years.