Tell us about yourself. Family, education, career, hobbies, etc.
I grew up in Esko, MN and graduated from Esko High School in 1983. I moved to Polk County in 1988 after completing an Associate’s degree in law enforcement from Hibbing Community Technical College. In addition to my Associate’s degree, I have taken numerous supervisor and management courses over the years. I have lived in Polk County for over 30 years. My wife Stacy and I have been married for 23 years and live in the Erskine area. We have three children, Austin (21), Sydney (19), and Kianna (13). We spend time as a family in the outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping and grilling all year long. My family and I are members of Grace Lutheran Church in Erskine. I have served on the Erskine Volunteer Fire Department for 22 years and the Win-E-Mac School Board for 14 years. I am also involved with Crookston TRIAD, the Crookston Salvation Army, Winger Lions Club, National Rifle Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, Polk County Wellness Coalition, and the Polk-Norman- Mahnomen Community Health Improvement Planning Group.
I am the current Chief Deputy, appointed by current Sheriff Barb Erdman in 2013. I have the experience and leadership to be your next sheriff. I have received many endorsements from current and retired Sheriffs. I appreciate their trust, support and confidence in my ability to lead the office.
Over the span of your career, what have you accomplished and help accomplish for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office?
In 1988 I was Polk County’s first undercover Task Force Narcotics Officer. While working narcotics cases I was able to develop and refine my skills as a criminal investigator. I later received assignments to work and supervise investigations, including major homicides.
In 1993 I became a Use of Force Defensive Tactics / NRA Firearms Instructor. I have developed and written training programs required by the state. We still utilize them today.
As my career has progressed I became an instructor in other areas of mandated training such as: chemical munitions, expandable baton, taser and cell extraction. As a result, Polk County has saved thousands of dollars in mandated officer training. Currently, I am proud to be supervising seven Use of Force Instructors who provide training to our law enforcement officers. I have also helped develop and set-up the current firearms range. I continue to work with staff on finishing the project.
In 1996 I became the first K9 Officer for the Sheriff’s Office. I helped develop the initial K9 program and would like to restore the program.
During my tenure as Chief Deputy I have also assisted with youth education.
As a member of the Northland College Law Enforcement Advisory Committee, I initiated talks with Northland College regarding the development of a Dispatcher Certificate Program. We hope to build interest and expedite hiring of dispatchers through this program. Polk County Commissioner Warren Strandell has joined me in this effort. Northland College is currently in the process of developing a program.
Tell us why you’re the person to become the next sheriff.
That decision will be made by voters very soon. I am well-prepared for the duties and responsibilities of the office. I have worked closely with the current Sheriff, Deputies and staff as Chief Deputy. Leadership is more than being a good manager. To effectively serve the public you must be willing to listen and be a good communicator. I have worked in all divisions in the Sheriff’s Office throughout my 30 years in law enforcement. I have served as a Patrol Deputy, K/9 handler, Training Instructor/Supervisor, Property and Evidence Supervisor, Criminal and Narcotics Investigator, Supervisor/Sergeant, and the last 5 years as Chief Deputy. As Chief Deputy, my position is to assist the Sheriff with the command and control of the Sheriff’s Office. I supervise all staff in our office. I oversee all day-to-day operations, assist with budget and Emergency Management oversight, development of personnel policies, and coordinate training for all staff. I also have administrative experience with internal affairs and background investigations. I have taken numerous law enforcement supervisor and management courses to prepare me for administrative duties of the sheriff’s office.
What has been the most difficult part of your current job?
When I was appointed Chief Deputy in 2013, I went from working side-by-side with fellow deputies to having command and control responsibilities of the office including dealing with personnel issues. While campaigning this fall I was asked if I have friends in the Sheriff’s office and would I discipline if necessary. I have many friends within the office and yes, I will discipline when necessary. The last 5 years working as Chief Deputy has given me the experience and knowledge to do what the job requires.
What has been the most rewarding?
Serving the public has been the most rewarding, from solving crimes and helping victims to changing a flat tire for someone. Today I am proud to serve as a leader in the Sheriff’s Office. The office continues to grow and develop. I see professionalism, pride, competence and enthusiasm in our officers and staff.
If you could go back in time and have the career your 6-year-old self-wanted you to have, what would that be?
As a 6 year old I wanted to be a police officer, fireman, or a race car driver. I have had the chance to do all of the above. I knew at an early age that I was interested in protecting others. I wanted to stick up for kids being bullied because it happened to me as a child. As an adult I joined the fire department to serve and give back to the community. I have raced three-wheel ATV’s, snowmobiles, and cars on dirt as well as on ice.
Tell us something unique about yourself that not many people know. Special talents? Fun collections?
My father taught me taxidermy and now I do it for fun. He was very skilled and extremely patient with me while I was learning. My dad is no longer living and I cherish having the skills to do what he enjoyed doing.