New Walla Walla County sheriff sworn in

John Turner was joined by several of his appointees at Thursday's formal ceremony.

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With his wife, Jacqui, holding the family bible, newly-elected Sheriff John Turner is sworn into office Thursday by Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald Schacht. (Dec. 30, 2010)

WALLA WALLA -- One of the final acts of the 2010 general election was played out Thursday in a packed courtroom.

Standing before a crowd of supporters, newly-elected Sheriff John Turner was sworn into office by Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht. Also sworn in were Turner's appointees, Undersheriff Edward Freyer, Operations Capt. Barry Blackman and Jail Superintendent Keilen Harmon.

During the ceremony, Turner took his oath of office while holding his hand on his family Bible, which was held by his wife, Jacqui. Turner said the heirloom belonged to his great-grandmother, Elizabeth Hofer, when she came to Walla Walla County.

Family members also played a part in Blackman's swearing in as his wife, Chris, pinned on his new captain's bars and badge, and during Harmon's swearing in when his 8-year-old son, Wesley, held the Bible while his wife, Theresa, stood by.

Turner said earlier Thursday that his decision to appoint Freyer, Blackman and Harmon was made after they were recommended by a selection committee composed of himself, Walla Walla police Chief Chuck Fulton, Benton County Undersheriff Paul Hart and Jeff Williams, chief of the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center police force.

Blackman is a 28-year veteran with the sheriff's office and, before being promoted to captain, held the rank of sergeant.

Freyer is a former FBI agent who retired in 2002 and had been living in Santa Rosa, Calif. He said he met Turner after going to Iraq in 2008, where both were employed by the Department of Defense as law enforcement professionals in counterterrorism activities.

After returning to the U.S., Freyer said he remained in contact with Turner, following his campaign and election "and things grew from there." He and his wife, Susan, have since moved to Walla Walla, he said.

Harmon said he was also employed in Iraq, working 22 months in the country for the Department of Justice as part of a program to train Iraqi correctional officers.

A 25-year veteran in corrections, Harmon said his previous experience includes working at the Walla Walla County Jail as well as being a correctional officer at Washington State Penitentiary from 1987 to 1999. He has most recently worked as a deputy with the Benton County Jail.

Along with Turner, other county officers elected in November were Coroner Richard Greenwood, Auditor Karen Martin, Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle, Clerk Kathy Martin, Assessor Debra Antes, Treasurer Gordon Heimbigner, District 3 County Commissioner Greg Tompkins, full-time District Court Judge John Knowlton and part-time District Court Judge Kris Hedine.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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