EAST WENATCHEE — The East Wenatchee Police Department has tapped a Yakima police officer to be its second in command.
Chief Rick Johnson announced earlier this week that he’s hired Sgt. Erik Hampton from the Yakima Police Department to join East Wenatchee as his assistant chief.
“Sgt. Hampton comes highly recommended from his peers, and the administration at (the Yakima Police Department),” Johnson said in an email. “I’m confident East Wenatchee and our region will benefit from his experience and outside perspective.”
Hampton begins his new role Feb. 1. His last day with Yakima police is Jan. 30.
Hampton joined the Yakima Police Department 22 years ago and is currently a member of its Gang Crime Investigation Unit and leads the area’s regional SWAT team. He’s also served as a homicide detective, property crimes detective, patrol sergeant and training officer. Prior to law enforcement, he spent five years in the U.S. Army.
The hiring of Hampton marks a complete turnover of administrative leadership at the department in a little more than a year.
Johnson was hired in June 2020, six months after longtime chief Randy Harrison retired, and Hampton fills a position left vacant when former assistant chief, Ray Coble, resigned in July.
Johnson’s and Hampton’s predecessors were the subjects of controversy after East Wenatchee police officers issued a vote of no confidence in Harrison and Coble at a City Council meeting in January 2019. A subsequent report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs recommended the department institute dozens of policy changes.
Helping to rebuild the agency was part of the allure of the job, Hampton said in an interview Wednesday.
“To me it’s an opportunity to help mold the department,” he said. “It’s extremely exciting.”
He explained that he’s previously served as a basic SWAT instructor for the state and teaches use-of-force and de escalation tactics in Yakima.
“In my heart I’m a trainer,” Hampton said.