Over the past 8 months, since I have announced my candidacy to become the next Wright County Sheriff, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet with many people and discuss several of the social issues of today. Below you will find some of my views from the most frequently asked questions that I have received.
Our citizens deserve the best service that we can provide and having a senior staff can help ensure that we are providing the quality service that experience brings. I will open the channels of communication for employee engagement and give the employees more opportunities to share ideas and to be an active participant in the decision-making processes of the Sheriff’s Office.
I will work to empower our employees to become more involved within the Sheriff’s Office. I will also encourage them to become more involved in our communities. I will be open to a new schedule for our patrol division which has been in place for many years and has never been popular with our staff. I will introduce two programs, the first being a “Mentorship Program”. By taking advantage of our senior staff and their willingness to coach and mentor our new staff, this approach will offer opportunities to engage everyone. The second program is an “Incentive Based Wellness Program”. We must ensure that we are taking care of ourselves so we can provide the best possible service to the community we serve.
I want to ensure that we are all being “Ambassadors” to our Community by being committed to public safety and involved through volunteer opportunities which will build stronger ties and relationships. I will be a champion for our employees and their wellbeing and an “Ambassador” to our citizens.
I am and will remain a strong advocate for “the right to keep and bear arms”. This Amendment was created by our Founding Fathers to give every law-abiding citizen of the United States the right to protect themselves and those around them. As your Sheriff, I will not support any new legislation at the Federal or State level that would further restrict the legal possession and/or ownership of firearms by law abiding citizens.
If any new legislation is introduced and passed that further restricts the rights of law abiding gun owners, I will immediately work with the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association to find common ground to our approach moving forward.
I do believe, however, that we need to do more to address the violence in our country. I believe that we need to address the root cause of this violence. Through a strong collaboration with our Mental Health Partners, we need to continue the discussion and implementation of programs to better reach and serve those who are struggling with mental illness, depression and drug abuse. Early warning signs are often the best predictor of future behavior.
I fully support a thorough background check and a firearms safety course prior to receiving the permit to carry. We do need to be responsible as it relates to our possession, storage and use of firearms. I also believe in aggressive enforcement of the laws and increased penalties for violators.
As your Sheriff, I will also ensure that our current processes at the Wright County Sheriff’s Office to issue Permit to Purchase and Permit to Carry applications continue to be processed efficiently, timely and according to current Minnesota State Law.
During my career in Law Enforcement, I have spent two and a half years as a Narcotics Investigator and have seen first hand the damaging affects of illicit drug use on the user, their families and on our community. From increased violence in our families to spikes in other crimes such as Burglary, Theft and Fraud. Illicit drug users and dealers often support their habits through other crimes with little regard about how it affects their victims.
We need to aggressively enforce our current drug laws and advocate for enhanced penalties on dealers. During my time as the Criminal Investigations Division Lieutenant, I advocated for the sharing of information between our Narcotics Investigators and our Detectives. By bringing them together, there was no surprise that often times, they had information on the same people, organizations and households. By coming together and sharing this information, we were and continue to be in a better position to bring these people to justice. I do not feel that we are going to enforce or legislate our drug problem away, I believe that educating our young people has got to be part of our long-term solution in Wright County. I will also continue to support our “Drug Court” program in Wright County. I believe that drug treatment for those struggling with addiction will also help in our long-term solution.
I will not further advocate for the legalization of Marijuana. If my experience has told me anything, it has told me that the vast majority of Americans struggling with drug addiction started when they were young teenagers, and almost always with the use of Marijuana. In regards to “medical use marijuana”, I do support this use if it is under the close supervision of a medical doctor for treatment.
I currently participate in regular meetings with the Hospital/Law Enforcement Partnership Collaboration. We continue to discuss the growing trend and concern of the opioid problems that we are facing. Unfortunately, we are finding that they have an impact on every demographic in our population through the ease of obtaining these medications. Often times, when people are not able to obtain another prescription, they turn to illicit street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl which may have serious consequences including overdose and all to often, death.
I will continue to collaborate with organizations in Wright County such as MEADA (Meth Education and Drug Awareness). These organizations provide great opportunities to round table and discuss issues and formulate plans on how we can better educate our young people and serve those that are struggling.
Since we know that the vast majority of drug abusers start when they are young teenagers, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with our school districts to teach DARE and other educational programs. By reaching our children at a young age, we hope to educate them on the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, drug use and bullying. At every DARE graduation ceremony that I have attended, I have encouraged parents to use these programs as a building block for future conversations with their children and to keep those lines of communication open.
1 in 5 adults in the United States suffer from some type of Mental Health Disorder—from Depression, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and everything in between. When left untreated, these disorders lead to other problems in society from lost wages, other medical related problems, incarceration and suicide.
The MN State Legislature and the MN POST Board has recently mandated changes to the requirements for Peace Officers across the state. We are now mandated to include more training for our officers regarding Mental Health and de-escalation techniques. I am a strong advocate for more training to help those in need. The Wright County Sheriff’s Office continues to monitor these changes and we are in the process of implementing these changes to our training curriculum to fulfill these mandates. I feel that it is very important to provide the deputies of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office the necessary training tools so they can better relate and help those who may be suffering with a mental health crisis.
By learning how to better communicate and watching for early warning signs, we will be able to more effectively deal with the situation, without using excessive force.
Again, by working with our school officials and mental health partners, resources can be provided and obtained by those suffering from mental health issues. With early intervention and treatment, we can help these people recover before other problems occur as a result of the illness.
I am currently working with several mental health partners throughout Wright County including Central Minnesota Mental Health Center, Wright County Health and Human Services, EMS Directors and our local hospitals. By discussing the challenges we face regarding those affected by mental health illnesses in Wright County, we can better improve the well-being of those individuals struggling with these issues while maintaining their safety and the safety of our first responders. By streamlining our current processes and involving Central Minnesota Mental Health Center, we will be more efficient, effective and empathetic to those suffering mental health illnesses.
Through this collaboration, we are currently working to put together resources and information to educate people in our community about the options that are available to seek help. Everyone deserves to enjoy day-to-day life and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office relationship with these organizations and our continued partnership will be critical in helping make this a real possibility for many people in our community.
In 2017, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office provided nearly 6,600 training hours to our licensed deputies and civilian staff at a cost of over $240,000.00. The trainings were a mix of on-site, off-site, hands-on and online training. The Sheriff’s Office has certified instructors on staff, such as Use of Force, Firearms, Emergency Vehicle Operations, Active Shooter, Taser, Less Lethal and Laser Shot Simulator. Having these instructors on our staff increases our flexibility in training schedules and saves the tax payers of Wright County money. Additional training was also provided in the areas of certified Crisis Intervention Techniques, De-escalation Strategies for Persons with Mental Illnesses and Behavioral Disorders, First Aid CPR/AED and Radiological Emergency Preparedness. Recently, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office received a grant for funding NARCAN. This past spring, during our normal medical training, our staff was issued and trained in the use of NARCAN. Since that time, Wright County Deputies have saved 3 lives after recognizing the signs that the person was suffering from an opioid overdose.
As the next Wright County Sheriff, I will ensure that we continue to meet and exceed the training requirements set by state law and the Minnesota POST Board (Peace Officer Standards and Training). I will also work to redefine the relationship of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office and our public safety partners to include our 15 fire departments, EMS Professionals and our Police Departments. By coming together and training together, I feel that we will be more effective and efficient as it relates to our “unified response”. By coming together, we will build stronger relationships and be in a better position to communicate current and future needs as it relates to our “public safety”.