INTEGRITY, TRANSPARENCY, & LEADERSHIP
These are three qualities that I think make up the foundation of a good Sheriff. They also relate to each
other, and I don’t think a person can fully develop one of these qualities without the other two.
Integrity is a character trait that is synonymous with trust. I believe that if a person lacks integrity, they
lack the ability to build the trust necessary to be a leader, and they will not offer transparency for the
fear that they will be exposed.
Transparency is a core value for good leadership. If a Sheriff makes a decision for the right reasons, they
should have no trouble explaining why they made that decision. Disagreement and debate is a healthy
and necessary part of good decision making. “Because I can” should never be an answer given by
someone in a public office when their decisions are questioned.
It’s hard to describe leadership in a paragraph. Simply put, I believe that it starts with good character,
and the confidence to know that it’s ok to be wrong. It’s crucial to listen to the people around you who
will disagree with you when necessary, and support you when you do the right thing. In the book “Good
to Great”, Jim Collins likens your organization to a bus. You need to put the right people in the right
seats on the bus, then decide collectively where you’re going to drive it.
Sheriff Daryl Jensen once told me “A public office is a public trust”. This has always stuck with me
because I think that it provides the right foundation for a Sheriff to understand the expectations and
responsibility that come with the position. I also think that it helps a Sheriff understand the need to
foster these three qualities in themselves, and the organization that they lead.
Management of the Sheriff’s budget is one of the most scrutinized duties of the office, and for good
reason. The Sheriff is responsible for planning and presenting a responsible budget to the county board
for approval, and working hard to stay within that budget during the fiscal year. People want to make
sure that their tax dollars are being responsibly and conservatively spent. It's the Sheriff's responsibility to see that we are operating in the most efficient manner possible while still delivering a public service that meets their expectations.
Transparency is critical when it comes to the budget. Transparency with the taxpayers, the county
board, and with Sheriff’s office staff. There are many moving parts in a Sheriff’s office and they all
require public funding to operate. I spent several years working with Sheriff Jensen on the budget, and he
impressed upon me the importance of being transparent and of being prepared every year when
planning the budget.
A Sheriff’s Office has a wide range of responsibilities when it comes to public safety. Of course we have
enforcement and investigative responsibilities, but beyond that, we are responsible for managing a jail
and the inmates who are held there. We have a dispatch center for all law enforcement in Fillmore
County, as well as fire departments and EMS. These are all functions that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week, 365 days per year.
Fillmore County is unique in that not only do we provide these services to every citizen of the county,
additionally, several of our cities who used to have their own police departments now pay contracts to
the Sheriff’s Office, and in return the Sheriff’s Office provides their public safety services. These cities
include Spring Valley, Ostrander, Wykoff, Harmony, Canton, and Mabel. It is crucial that the foundation
of these relationships be built on trust between the Sheriff, and the cities. Throughout my 20 year
career with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office I have built relationships with city leaders throughout
the county, and I believe that will be a benefit to the Sheriff’s Office, and the community.
It was made clear to me early in my career by Sheriff Connolly and Sheriff Jensen how important it was
for those of us working the street to get out of our squad cars and get to know the people in our
community. This was never about politics, it was about us as individuals getting to know the
communities we serve, the local government, the business owners, and the citizens who live there so
that we could truly understand the needs of the community.
A very experienced street cop once told me “Drug dealers are like cockroaches. If you can see one, there
are a hundred more hiding behind the walls.”
Our most significant drug problem remains methamphetamine. This is not unique to Fillmore County but
is the same story across much of the Midwest. During the 5 years that I worked undercover narcotics
and for the many years after, I have worked countless criminal cases that were a direct result of
someone’s drug use. The damage goes far beyond what the user experiences themselves.
We have a very hard-working and committed investigations division with one investigator assigned full-
time to narcotics and violent crime. We belong to the Southeastern Minnesota Violent Crime Offender
Task Force, a team of investigators who work drug and violent crime cases throughout southeastern
We have written search warrants, seized illegal drugs, weapons, and cash, and arrested drug dealers.
One hard lesson that I have learned through the years is if there is a demand, there will always be a
As your Sheriff I will implement a new program called the Fillmore County Crime Prevention Program. As
part of this effort we will include topics related to illegal drugs, their production and sale, and signs of
their use. Through education of the public and a stronger partnership with the community we will strive
to lower the demand for illegal drugs, and identify and aggressively pursue the supply.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I’ve spent nearly 15 years as a criminal investigator. Putting together a complete and thorough criminal
investigation is time consuming, costly, and sometimes dangerous. This pales in comparison to the loss
felt by the victims.
Not only is crime prevention one of our responsibilities, educating the public on current and relevant
issues can prevent crimes from occurring, which saves resources and prevents our citizens from
becoming victims. As an investigator I have given many crime prevention presentations throughout the
years on a wide range of topics.
One of my priorities as Sheriff will be to start the Fillmore County Crime Prevention Program. This will be
a structured program presented by the Sheriff’s Office to the public several times per year in different
locations. The topics presented will vary, and will be relevant to the audience and the current crime
trends. Topics may include:
Scams and identity theft
Safe use of social media and the internet
Protecting your property
Personal protection of yourself and your loved ones
There are an endless number of crime prevention topics that we could discuss, and I’d love to hear what
issues people are concerned about.
THE FILLMORE COUNTY JAIL
Fillmore County has one of the oldest jails in the state of Minnesota. We have struggled with the issue of
our aging jail structure for several years. The future of our jail and its operation is uncertain as the
structure itself no longer meets with the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of
Corrections. We as a county have several options on how to go forward beyond simply building a new
jail. If we do not deal with these issues a solution may be forced upon us by the Department of
Corrections, a scenario that has played out in other southeastern Minnesota counties in recent years.
Before Sheriff Jensen retired in 2014, he told the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners that we had
several options regarding our jail, but doing nothing was not one of those options. We need to continue the
conversation and include the Board of Commissioners, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Fillmore County
taxpayers so that collectively our community can make a decision about the future of the Fillmore
When I was hired by Sheriff Connolly nearly 21 years ago, I and several other applicants completed a
grueling physical fitness test as part of the hiring process. It was very clear to me at that time that one of
the basic requirements of a good Deputy was to be physically fit. I believed in that philosophy then, and
I still do today. The reason for this was more than the ability to chase down bad guys or handle a
physical confrontation. A Police Officer who is physically fit is more confident in themselves and their
ability to handle a stressful situation. During my time as a defensive tactics instructor I came to
understand that an officer who is confident in themselves physically is less likely to make a bad decision
and over react in a stressful situation.
An Officer who is physically fit and healthy also promotes a positive image of their organization, and
instills confidence in the public they serve.
As your Sheriff, I will continue to hold myself to the same physical fitness standard that I hold for our
strapping young deputies. Part of being a good leader is setting an example for the people around you.
Good physical fitness is not a program to be forced on employees by a Sheriff, it should be a basic
cultural expectation of any law enforcement agency and it should start with the people in charge.
As your Sheriff I will re-introduce a physical fitness test into the evaluation process when hiring new
deputies. I will also work to encourage employees to take advantage of physical fitness benefits offered
by the county.