The most qualified, and experienced person for the job of sheriff in Scott county is our current Sheriff Luke Hennen. I know that to be true as I have had the privilege of working with Luke for more than 20 years. However, if I ever doubted it, the Q&A from his opponent in the paper certainly makes it clear that Luke Hennen is the best choice. The Q&A makes it obvious to me that his opponent is either poorly informed or is a typical politician mischaracterizing items to garner votes.

To say that the sheriff’s office is isolated and does not partner with other public safety providers, to be very frank, is ridiculous. The sheriff’s office provides an array of services to other public safety providers. In the past few years Sheriff Hennen asked for and received new staff — a crime analyst and forensic specialist — who partner with other agencies on those cases that cross jurisdictional boundaries. And, unlike many sheriff’s offices in this area, Sheriff Hennen does not charge back to our local agencies for services — which is the very essence of partnering.

I was the jail administrator for many years. Recruiting and retention of jail staff has always been a complex problem, as it is in most jails within the state. The jail follows a staffing plan approved by the state. But the job is difficult, the hours are not the best, and for most people this is an entry level position. People use it as a stepping stone to become a police officer or a probation officer. The result is higher turnover, but throwing money at it like Sheriff Hennen’s opponent suggests won’t necessarily fix it.

Over my 40-plus year career, I am aware of very few serious incidents in our jail. The jail already has mental health services and Hennen was proactive in getting the treatment court and a re-entry program for those being discharged started. As a taxpayer I don’t want a new sheriff who would state that increased staffing is a priority before he even takes the time to fully understand the issue or who doesn’t seem to know what programs the jail is already providing.

The computer aided dispatch system was replaced only two years ago at considerable cost. The new program (LETG) was strongly recommended (to me personally) by a number of police chiefs. The implementation certainly had its challenges — many caused by a change in ownership of LETG mid-process. The new system works and is significantly better than what it replaced. In his Q&A, Sheriff Hennen’s opponent overstates the issues and ignores the work that has and is already being done; again, advocating for unnecessary spending.

Sheriff Hennen is a pragmatic, conservative leader for Scott County and the sheriff’s office and he is dealing very effectively with the public safety issues in Scott County. Please join me in voting to Keep Luke Hennen as Scott County’s sheriff.

Gary L. Shelton

Prior Lake

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