Profile of a sheriff candidate
December 19, 2001
He has dived for pearls, run a skeet-shooting range in Germany, cooked in Denny’s at South Lake Tahoe and worked in law enforcement for 27 years; now he wants to be sheriff of El Dorado County.
Sgt. Larry Hennick’s goal is to return fairness and devotion to the department and citizens of the county. The 48-year-old from Placerville also plans to bring law to residents by strengthening and adding deputy satellite offices in the county.
“Go back to the basic stuff that worked,” he said.
Right now Hennick has no opponents, but Sheriff Hal Barker has not said if he will run for reelection. The cut off to become a candidate for sheriff is Sept. 28. The election will be held March 5, 2002.
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors appointed Barker sheriff in 1997 after Don McDonald retired 18 months early. Barker, Hennick and two other men tested for the job.
In 1998, Sheriff Hal Barker ran uncontested earning the four-year term. Hennick decided not to run against Barker because he was an incumbent and wanted to “wait and see” if there would be issues to tackle.
Hennick now feels the time is right. He’s been planning his campaign for the last four years and says he know what deputies need.
“I’m the working kind of guy. People know what it is I am about,” he said. “I’ve walked in their shoes, I’ve done their job. I know what it is that they do. I know their heartaches and disappointments.”
Next week, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Association will convene twice – June 4 in Placerville and June 5 in South Lake Tahoe – to determine the candidate it will support in the election. Their support is a powerful force come election time.
“Mr. Barker came on board from Folsom Police Department and we didn’t know anything about him. I think it’s time for a change,” Hennick said. “Mr. Barker has brought employees to our county with little or no background checks and we have paid the price, in my opinion.
“I don’t see direction. I don’t see leadership. I don’t see us coming to the forefront in law enforcement. And that’s the reason I’m running. I’ve seen a lot of gifts for those at the top. I think that money would be better spent by increasing coverage with more deputies.”
Hennick grew up an army brat who settled in El Dorado County in 1968. In high school, he took classes in architectural drafting and industrial arts. He considered a career at Denny’s Restaurant until he attended a recruitment meeting for reserve deputies.
“It was like a shot of adrenaline. Once I went there I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he said. “It ignited a passion in me for this job. A flame that has never gone out.”
He became a paid deputy in 1977. Now he’s a sergeant with experience that includes the SWAT team, narcotics investigations and his present job of extradition and transportation supervisor.
Hennick credits training with his success. As sheriff he would emphasize training as well tap the knowledge and experience that he believes exists in the department.
He trains law enforcement officers in his spare time and is an expert in self-defense. Hennick has trained in “soft-style” Aikido at the Koga Institute for more than 25 years.
“If you’ve ever watched (Steven) Seagal, he uses hard style,” he said. “Law enforcement, we can’t use that; we use soft style. The Koga method is well known. It’s about control holds that elicit cooperation.”
But Hennick stressed the county needs more than training, it needs leadership.
“To be a sheriff in this county is to be a leader,” he said. “There’s really been no direction the last four years. We need to stop spinning our wheels and go forward.”
When Hennick is not enhancing his knowledge of law enforcement, he likes to water ski, chop wood and support his 7-year-old son, Colton, in sports.