Tell us about yourself. Family, education, career, hobbies, etc.
I grew up on a family farm between Climax MN and Buxton ND with my parents and 3 brothers. I graduated from Climax HS and received my Criminal Justice Degree at Northland Community College in Thief River Falls, MN.
I started my law enforcement career at the age of 20 with the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office. I worked as a transport then patrol deputy until January of 1994 when I started in Polk County under Sheriff Qualley. I have worked in patrol, investigations, drug task force and currently as a supervisor
For the past 18 years, Lisa and I have raised twin girls (Hanna and Jenna) that will be graduating from college this December. We currently reside on a small hobby farm in rural Erskine, MN. I enjoy getting back to the farm and the typical outdoor activities fishing, golf, horseback riding and aviation as I hold a private pilot’s license.
Over the span of your career, what have you accomplished and help accomplish for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office?
For the past 24 years as a Polk County Deputy I have worked effectively and efficiently as a patrol deputy, drug task force officer where we had some of the largest drug seizures in Polk County, investigator – worked on the Weekly (cold case) Homicide, Cornelius Rodgers (gang related) Homicide and the Dru Sjodin (Predatory Offender) Homicide all resulting in convictions. I am currently working as a Supervisor training and supervising new deputies.
During this time, I managed the Boat and Water Program for 6 years and 8 years as the Team leader for the Polk County Special Response Team. I am currently assigned to the Grand Forks Regional SWAT Team for Polk County. I have initiated, developed, managed and budgeted numerous programs in the department as a way to aid department manpower concerns, needs of the community and a way to assist in cost savings.
The programs and projects I co-founded or initiated are as followings:
• The Polk County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse volunteers started in 1996 for manpower Issues, I am currently the liaison.
• Enrolling into 1033 Program (military surplus equipment) which in turn allowed me to apply and acquire approx. a $200,000 armored vehicle to be used to protect officers in critical incidents and operations during natural disasters.
• Establish and develop the Sheriff’s Office firearms range to help alleviate cost and enhance department training.
• Develop and maintain the Sheriff’s Office 800 radio programming to eliminate programming costs.
• Develop and maintain Polk County’s Project Lifesaver Program, a tracking system for autistic children and elderly with dementia that wonder.
• Suggest the purchase of a Drone and became the 1st certified drone pilot for the department a cost savings way to enhance our investigation capabilities.
Tell us why you’re the person to become the next sheriff.
I have been moving toward and preparing for the Sheriff position my entire law enforcement career. I have worked for almost 28 years, under 4 different Sheriffs, as a Polk County patrol officer, drug task force officer, investigator, and supervisor. I have managed different programs and personnel at Polk County, and am comfortable using effective management and conflict resolution strategies. I enjoy assessing situations and solving problems. I have sought and secured funding for programs that I designed, developed, and managed. I am familiar with all the different aspects of the department’s service responsibilities.
I also have 10 years’ experience as a township supervisor, which gave me the opportunity to manage projects and take on administrative & budget responsibilities. I have also been an active volunteer with the Fosston-Lengby Lions club, Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Association and 4H.
I have a strong commitment to the people and communities of Polk County, and value my positive relationships with many people in the justice system, collaborating agencies, and residents. I have been told that I am an effective communicator and honesty, integrity, and hard work are some of my core values. I believe that an effective leader requires all these qualities.
What has been the most difficult part of your current job?
Keeping up with technology within the constraints of the budget. Addressing staff retention issues and finding ways to attract and keep good law enforcement officers and dispatchers. The rural area has many positive aspects but also creates challenges such as transportation needs when finding available treatment facilities for individuals suffering from mental illness or drug addiction. The lack of treatment centers in the area require enormous amounts of cost and manpower to find an appropriate response to the issue. That is why collaboration with partner agencies is essential.
What has been the most rewarding?
Interacting with the community. In 1997, I was living and working out of East Grand Forks during the flood. It was inspiring to see the community come together in such a devastating time, neighbors helping neighbors and strangers helping strangers. It was the most rewarding time of my career.
If you could go back in time and have the career your 6-year-old self wanted you to have, what would that be?
A farmer/rancher, as I grew up on the small grain farm we also had a Hereford cow/calf operation of approx 70 head. The memories of being outside riding in the tractors and trucks with my dad along with my mom bringing lunch out to the field was like having a picnic in my 6 year old eyes. Also watching my dad, brothers and neighbors working with the cattle and trying to help bottle feed the calves when needed, I thought was the ideal way of life.
Tell us something unique about yourself that not many people know. Special talents? Fun collections?
I enjoy history and collecting and restoring vintage cast iron dating back to the 1800’s. Also, Lisa and I raise Boston Terriers and compete in dog shows nationally and internationally.