Clark County’s chief criminal deputy will make his bid for sheriff in 2022.
John Horch, 53, has worked his way through the ranks over his 32-year career with the sheriff’s office, after joining as a deputy sheriff in 1989. He joins Vancouver Police Department Cpl. Rey Reynolds, 62, in the race to succeed Chuck Atkins as sheriff. Atkins, 66, has said he will retire when his term expires in December 2022.
In his current role, Horch oversees all enforcement operations for the sheriff’s office, including patrol deputies, SWAT and the Major Crimes Team, according to a news release. Horch feels he’s gained a holistic picture of the agency, which has prepared him to lead the department, he said.
A graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School, Horch grew up in Clark County. He earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and graduated from the FBI National Academy and the FBI Command College in Quantico, Va. He said he studied the leadership of former Sheriff Garry Lucas and Atkins while working under them.
“It would be an honor,” he said, if voters elect him.
Horch, a Republican, plans to rely on the relationships he’s built with community groups and the county council to ensure future funding and staffing levels for the department.
The next sheriff likely will oversee the rollout of body-worn cameras, for which Horch successfully advocated.
He’s conscious of the questions surrounding law enforcement in the community and police reform bills coming out of the state and national capitals. He foresees funding challenges implementing any new requirement signed into law, but said he’ll work with the county council to ensure the sheriff’s office remains in compliance. He called the sheriff’s office “progressive” in its efforts to stay current with laws governing policing.
“I believe we need strong, courageous leadership,” he said. “These are trying times for a lot of people.”
He knows recruitment and staff retention will continue to be a problem for the department under the next sheriff. He said he plans to expand on the work that the current sheriff and administration have begun toward assessing those processes. Horch also plans to push officials to renovate facilities like the Clark County Jail and the west precinct near Ridgefield.
Horch has four children and enjoys running and hiking.