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Richard Stanek, Hennepin
An Interview with
The Civic Caucus
8301 Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
Notes of the Discussion
Verne Johnson (chair), David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Paul Gilje
(coordinator), Jim Hetland, Gail Hudson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie, Dan
Loritz (vice-chair), Tim McDonald, Clarence Shallbetter
Summary of discussion
- Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek describes how he has realigned
his agency to fit a shrinking budget while also reducing crime. The budget
shortfalls are here to stay, he says, and public officials should
acknowledge that and seek ways to do more with less. He suggests
consolidating county and municipal services, if possible, where there is
A. Introduction of speaker
- Sheriff Richard W. Stanek is the 27th Hennepin County Sheriff. Stanek, a
lifelong resident of Hennepin County, was born and grew up in Northeast
Minneapolis. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a
bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and earned a masters degree in
public administration from Hamline University.
Sheriff Stanek is law
enforcement veteran who rose through the ranks within the Minneapolis
Police Department earning several promotions for his dedication and
passion for public safety. Prior to being elected as the Sheriff of
Hennepin County, he served the Minneapolis Police Department as Commander
of the Criminal Investigations Division.
A five-term legislator in
the Minnesota House of Representatives, he chaired the House Crime Policy
and Finance Committee. The Sheriff has also managed the largest law
enforcement agency in the state when, in 2003, he was appointed
Minnesota's Commissioner of Public Safety and Director of Homeland
Stanek lives in Maple
Grove with his wife
and their two children.
Current economic conditions and future outlook is forcing changes in the
ways public sector entities do business.
"It goes without saying that
current economic conditions are the new normal," Stanek said. "It is what
people see every day in the state."
Consolidate and/or integrate government services where overlap exists.
I would like to see
statewide consolidation/integration of localized government services
related to counties and municipalities," Stanek said. "I have come to the
conclusion that where overlap occurs and is not necessary, it can't be
Make changes where feasible.
Significant changes in the
structure of public safety through consolidation may be necessary.
"The Hennepin County
Sheriff's Office has reduced 67 employees over the past three years,"
Stanek said. Employees find that very hard to accept. They think that
staffing will go back at least to how it was, if not increase. "It is
incumbent upon us to restructure. I don't see the previous capacity coming
back anytime soon. We approach it as an opportunity to realign and
In terms of police service,
Hennepin County covers 45 municipalities and the unorganized territory of
Fort Snelling. There are 36 law enforcement agencies in the county. When
there is an issue that requires a law enforcement response, Stanek told
the group, it can be difficult for citizens to understand who has
jurisdiction over what. (He also noted that private security out-numbers
local law enforcement staff by a ratio of eight-to-one.)
Meanwhile state statute
requires one elected sheriff for each of the 87 counties in Minnesota.
Sheriffs are elected locally, but state statute sets forth the statutory
obligations for all Sheriffs, i.e., what services they must provide the
The sheriff's office is a
countywide agency, Stanek said. It provides full-service law enforcement
through nine distinct lines of business. These services are funded by
residential and business property taxes and user fees. "The sheer strength
of the Sheriff's office comes in its scope and reach."
The 36 local police
departments in the county duplicate as few as two or as many as four of
these nine lines of business that the Sheriff's Office provides.
An example of this
duplication might be a western Hennepin County city with a
local police force. When a resident in this city calls 911, the call is
answered by the office of the County Sheriff and the Sheriff's office
dispatches the local police response. If one of the local police officers
is not available to respond, then a Sheriff's unit will respond. Depending
on the case, a Sheriff's K-9 unit or detective unit may be provided. If an
arrest is made, the arrestee will be brought to the Sheriff's Office jail.
Having a local police
department or dispatch center is all about local identity for towns, but
it's costly. When a 911 call is made in one of the cities that supports
its own dispatch the cost in some cities is as much as $4.00, compared to
about $0.17 if the city were to use the county Sheriff's dispatch
The discussion touched on
the relation of the sheriff's office with other public agencies and about
the role of the Department of Homeland Security. Stanek remarked that
prior to 2001, Homeland Security was not a distinct line of business for
his office. But in the post 9/11 world, it must be. "At 9/11, I was in the
legislature. We had to rethink the entire strategy, because at the same
time budgets were decreasing."
A participant asked where
firefighters might fit in the consolidation of county services. Stanek
replied that while there are over 22,000 fire fighters in the state,
outside of the 10 largest cities they are all volunteers. That is a
fundamental difference from police where police officers are all
full-time, salaried sworn officers to which many limited resources are
Target resources to get the
"We run the sheriff's office
like a business," Stanek said. "We have a four-year strategic plan and an
annual business plan. We meet quarterly as a command staff to review our
progress against plan and check in on our established metrics. We use this
process to target resources where they can be most effective. The method
for managing the office has been like building an orchestra. Target your
resources, because the work is labor intensive and you can only afford so
"An example would be
targeting our resources to the Violent Offender Task Force, which focuses
on the apprehension of habitual, predatory offenders. I sought detectives
that specialize in tracking these people and building a case." His office
chose to target violent and habitual offenders, and leave the other crimes
to local police force, he said.
Despite cuts in budgets
crime has decreased significantly.
Hennepin County has 22% of
the state's population, yet has 42% of the state's violent crime. In the
last five years, however, crime has decreased 36% in Hennepin County.
Three factors in the crime reduction include:
Partnerships with local groups and
Even with the encouraging
effects of their work, however, Stanek said the best way to fight crime is
to prevent people from developing into criminals in the first place.
"I'd much rather pay for
early childhood education than pay on the back end after a kid gets
himself into trouble. We spend a good portion of our time working with
To a final
question about structural changes in how the sheriff is selected, Stanek
observed that the elected sheriff is a good form of government because the
position exists independently, not working for the city council or mayor.
He has seen on multiple occasions how this can be important.
To close the session Stanek
commented that public leaders have no choice but to accept what is the new
norm of funding in the state, and realign to that. That means focusing
resources on priorities.
The chair thanked the
Sheriff for the visit today.