What compelled you to run for public office and what experience and talents would you bring?
When former Sheriff Scott McNurlin announced that he was not going to seek another term I was approached by numerous current staff that encouraged me to run. Throughout my 33-year career at the Sheriff’s Office I have been very fortunate to work for sheriffs who made our office a very good place to work. I want to ensure that our employees continue to have as good of careers that I have had.
With my experience in working in areas of dispatch, detention center, patrol division, investigations, and administration I have the experience and knowledge needed to understand the needs of each of these areas. It is very important for me to identify future leaders of the Sheriff’s Office and bring them into our administrative positions where we can work closely together to insure a strong future for the Sheriff’s Office.
Given tensions between law enforcement and citizens across the country, how would you strengthen the relationships between local residents and the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office?
We are fortunate that we have not experienced the tensions other parts of the state and country have. We have accomplished this at the Sheriff’s Office by having a staff that cares about each other and those we serve. Most staff live within Goodhue County and we encourage them to be active in the community.
We need to remain transparent and admit/correct mistakes when they are made. We haven’t held a Citizens Academy in a couple of years and I would like to have one again. This is a good way for citizens to see how divisions of the Sheriff’s Office function. Patrol staff and I continue to attend council meetings in the towns where we have policing contracts and also monthly township board meetings.
I remind groups that as much as they sometimes need us, we also need their support and we are fortunate to have that in Goodhue County.
What is the department’s role and responsibility in keeping schools safe?
The Sheriff’s Office assigns two deputies as a school resource officers in the Pine Island and Kenyon working closely with staff to keep schools safe. We have worked in the area of active shootings and school intruders.
Our Emergency Response Team became familiar with area schools by walking through those building and understanding the layout. Deputies also carry maps of schools in their squads. SRO Jeff Sjoblom attended training recently where a speaker talked about the Sandy Hook school shooting and the importance of saving seconds. Sjoblom then worked with county schools so deputies have with a key fob or card that will allow us to get into the building quickly during an emergency lockdown.
SORs also receive training in the area of bullying and internet crimes involving children.
Our staff will continue working together with school staff so that everyone knows their responsibilities in a school emergency.
What problem or issue in the county are you passionate about addressing and how would you do so?
As an investigator a majority of my time was working narcotics with the Southeast Minnesota Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force. I observed how many lives are affected besides the person using illegal drugs. When a Treatment Court in Goodhue County were first talked about, I was eager to be a part of the steering committee. I attended National Drug Court Institute training with Goodhue County team members to better understand how to make a Treatment Court successful. Several months ago I spoke at a forum about drug issues in our county at the Red Wing Library. It was evident from the number of people who attended there is community support for a Treatment Court. Besides treatment for an addict, we must reach out to employers and landlords to help with employment and housing.
I look forward to the coming months working together to bring a successful Treatment Court to Goodhue County.
With problems at prisons in Stillwater and elsewhere, do you have any ideas to make the Goodhue County Adult Detention Center better and safer for staff and prisoners?
Goodhue County operates a “direct-supervision” detention center: Staff interacts continuously with inmates, identifying problems early. Staff manage behavior to produce a jail that is safe and secure.
We need to continue Crisis Intervention Training which teaches staff how to deal with people going through mental-health crisis.
Detention sergeants are trained to carry and use Tasers. We have budgeted to purchase additional Tasers for staff. We recently completed a $1.2 million security upgrade to provide surveillance in areas previously not covered.
Jail staff recently implemented an inmate classification system. Depending on behavior, an Inmate moves up or down in time allowed out of the assigned cell. This has worked well and we have few incidents despite housing an average of 100 inmates daily.
My job is to listen to staff and continue to support what they feel is needed to operate a safe detention facility. This includes requested training opportunities and equipment needs.