“These are critical times in criminal justice and we need everyone pulling together to address the needs of our community.”
- Bob Fletcher
Public safety is a critical and necessary investment for every community. That’s why professional management and leadership of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office is imperative. Everyone—including citizens, employees, and community groups—must have trust and confidence in the Sheriff’s Office.
In 2019, the Sheriff’s Office budget will total $58.6 million. Compared to just four years ago, this represents an increase of nearly 14% or $7.2 million. There are also 435 full-time employees represented by seven labor unions who serve our community. Leading an organization this large and complex requires an experienced professional who has community ties.
It is important to pause and recognize the current interim sheriff was appointed in a process that lacked transparency and community input. Unlike other appointments for police chiefs, this was not an open process and there was no search for the best candidate. Qualified candidates—including women and people of color—were ignored.
Since being appointed, there have been numerous administrative errors, troubled labor relations, and a placement of politics above public safety. Some of the most serious examples include:
Union workers advancing a vote of no confidence for unsafe working conditions in the Adult Detention Center (jail)
Labor contracts not approved on time, forcing employees to work without a current contract
Requesting an additional $2.5 million from county taxpayers to make up for a failure to provide adequate staffing
Spending nearly $200,000 to remodel administrative offices while ignoring the need to invest in life-saving equipment
Missing financial deadlines and improper accounting totaling nearly $400,000
Cited as Out of Compliance from the state following the death of an inmate in jail
Subjected to a state investigation after more than 100 inmates had food poisoning in jail
Creating administrative jobs not recommended by a $100,000 independent staffing study
Using county resources for campaign purposes in violation of law and policy
Despite these issues, the interim sheriff still requested salary increases for himself. Between January and December 2017, the interim sheriff increased his salary 15.5%—that’s $21,317—to total $159,822. Neither the sheriff nor chief deputy have any experience working in or supervising a jail operation. Combined, they have less than nine years of experience working at a sheriff’s office.
As Sheriff, I am committed to restoring professional management with a focus on community service, labor relations, and transparency. To do this, we must:
Form an Advisory Board. To reestablish the Sheriff’s Office as a leader and guarantee services are provided consistent with community values, I will draw on a “Team of Experts.” Team members will reflect the diversity of the county and help shape the direction of the Sheriff’s Office. This includes delivering on the Public Safety Agenda for 2020 and advising on procedural justice matters. Meetings will be open to the public and minutes will be posted online.
Engage with all community groups. Ramsey County is the most diverse county in the state. The Sheriff’s Office will start meaningful community engagement efforts that are inclusive, inviting for all citizens, and effective in accomplishing community goals. The Sheriff’s Office will work alongside all residents, schools, non-profits, and businesses to improve the safety and livability of all neighborhoods.
Be present at labor management meetings. I will attend labor management meetings with all labor unions to discuss issues, seek input and suggestions, and answer questions. I will abide by labor contracts, respectfully use management prerogative, and achieve mutually beneficial resolutions.
Resolve labor contracts on time. The Sheriff’s Office will be committed to protecting the interests of citizens and working with labor unions to start contract negotiations on a schedule that allows for resolution and agreements in a timely manner. This provides peace of mind to employees, taxpayers, and administrators.
Proactively address budget and staffing issues. The Sheriff’s Office will stay on top of management issues. This will prevent negligent budgetary overruns, emergency funding requests, and even more staffing crises. We must do this to ensure public safety and community expectations are met. Through proper budget management, transparency, and incorporating data into decision-making processes, the long-term stability of the county will be maintained.
An annual management report will be published. This report will highlight the Sheriff’s Office progress on restoring professional management with a focus on community service, labor relations, and transparency.