The man running against Somervell County Sheriff Alan West this year is the chief of police in Hamilton, but he has lived in or around Glen Rose since 1981.
Tony Yocham, a 1982 graduate of Glen Rose High School, is the lone challenger for sheriff in the Republican primary.
Yocham, who will turn 56 years old next week, said he has considered running for Somervell County sheriff “for quite a few years.”
He began his stint as Hamilton’s chief of police on Jan. 2, 2019.
“I’ve been asked about it for a number of years, to run. I just decided now was the time,” he said.
After Greg Doyle decided not to run for re-election as Somervell sheriff, West won the election in 2016 after serving for 19 years as a deputy. The new four-year term, for either West or Yocham, will begin Jan. 1, 2021.
For more than a decade, starting in 1988, Yocham served in the Johnson County Criminal Investigations Division. There, his positions included lieutenant and assistant commander, and he also served on the STOP Task Force supervising narcotics and special crimes investigations.
Yocham was a contractor for the Department of Defense from 2004-07 in Iraq and Kosovo and an international police officer/trainer attached to the 1st Infantry Division and United Nations.
Before becoming chief of police in Hamilton, Yocham was a lieutenant on that police force, overseeing the patrol division and investigations.
Last week, Yocham spoke up on social media, commenting on a news release from the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office that gave statistics on illegal drugs seized by deputies in 2019.
That news release stated the amounts of marijuana, THC products, cocaine, heroin and prescription pills, plus a remarkably huge amount of methamphetamine “removed from the streets.”
The release stated that Somervell deputies seized 243,590.66 grams of meth worth $22,653,931.38. The total dollar amount in value given for all of the seized drugs was $22,669,219.62.
Yocham’s post about the article on the Glen Rose Reporter’s Facebook page states, in part: “As I suspected, the amount shown of methamphetamine seized was a Task Force amount… however, all other drugs seized are not Task Force amounts and seem to be only amounts seized by the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department. Why would they post stats on Somervell County’s seizures on all drugs except methamphetamine, and then use Task Force Stats on that? The reason is because methamphetamine is a hot topic and a serious problem in Somervell County.”
Yocham told the Glen Rose Reporter on Monday that he filed an open records request with the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office seeking the statistics on “the exact amount of methamphetamine and narcotics” seized in Somervell County.
He said that although the open records law requires a response within 10 days, he does not anticipate receiving those statistics before the community forum on Jan. 9 for Republican candidates who will be on the 2020 primary ballot.
Yocham said he suspects the amount of meth seized that was included in the Sheriff’s Office news release may have been misleading, and that “all but the meth was seized in Somervell County. But when it comes to meth, everybody knows that wasn’t seized in Somervell County.”
Yocham noted that the drug task force he referred to on Facebook is based in Johnson County, which has jurisdiction in Somervell County.
Somervell County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dwayne Griffin was quoted in the Glen Rose Reporter’s story online as saying, “This is not strictly from Somervell County. This is what Somervell County deputies have recovered so our deputies have been responsible for that amount. It didn’t just come from the streets of Somervell County, but it does affect Somervell County, its residents and the surrounding counties.”
As for the race for sheriff, Yocham said, “We have some really good officers there in Somervell County. I know the people. We just need better leadership and guidance. There’s some changes in administration that have to take place. There’s money, I feel, that is being wasted. A lot of things I get complaints about have to do with money and leadership.”
The Hamilton Police Department, under Yocham, has 10 officers, with one female starting in the police academy who is expected to graduate in June. There are three patrol officers, plus one officer at the hospital, along with one lieutenant, one sergeant and one corporal on the force.
Yocham’s wife, Jennie, is a special needs teacher in the Hamilton ISD. They reside in Somervell County and have two adult sons, in addition to three children who attend Glen Rose ISD schools. Their oldest girl is a freshman at Glen Rose High School. They also have a boy who attends Glen Rose Junior High and a girl in elementary school.