Don Gudmundson - Dakota County Sheriff
What motivated you to run for sheriff?
I have been sheriff for nearly 12 years. Dakota County has some projects that started under my tenure that I would like to see through. Among them is the consolidated dispatch center, which should go on line in 2007. Ultimately consolidated dispatch has the potential to save taxpayers large amounts of tax dollars plus make services more effective and efficient. There will be a new radio platform called 800 MHZ that also will increase the ability of public safety to communicate with each other in our county and across the state. A new state of the art booking center is scheduled to go on line at the Dakota County Jail in November. The booking center, which will also give needed space for jail records, jail health care, prisoner transportation, laundry, cooking, and will add needed beds is well planned and needed.
What, in your mind, is the role of the county sheriff?
The county sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the county. The sheriff needs to be a person who has a history of building relationships with law enforcement in Dakota County and across the state. For instance, Dakota County is the only county in Minnesota that has officers from various cities patrolling for DUI offenders in each other jurisdictions. For instance, officers from Rosemount and Farmington might find themselves patrolling in West St. Paul or South St Paul on a given night for drunk drivers. This special project is funded by state and federal funds. That is just one example of building relationships. Other examples include a SWAT team made up of city and county officers, the drug task force, and the already mentioned consolidate dispatch center.
Why do you believe you are qualified to fill that role?
I have been either a sheriff or chief of police for 28 years in Minnesota. I have a strong educational and training background that includes graduating from the Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar at the FBI Academy in Quantico Virginia. I also am a graduate of the Detroit Police Academy, the Illinois Bureau of Investigation Academy, and am an honors graduate of Concordia (Moorhead). The sheriff is involved in complex criminal investigations as an advisor and as a former homicide detective in Detroit and someone who has investigated mafia assassinations in Chicago, I have that experience. The sheriff must have experience in budgets and personnel. I have hired and promoted dozens and dozens of people and the Dakota County Sheriff's Office has a reputation for their staff being officers of integrity and excellence. We believe our department is the most racially diverse law enforcement agency in the state. The budget is nearly 19 million dollars and is well managed. The Dakota County Jail has jail populations upwards of 350 inmates and it takes experience to manage jails and inmates. I have run a jail for 22 years as sheriff of Fillmore or Dakota County.
What do you consider the biggest issue facing this area in the years you would serve?
Metamphetamine is the fuel in the furnace that drives crime rates and high jail populations. The Dakota County Drug Task Force, which is supervised by a Dakota County deputy has made record number of arrests and conducted record number of search warrants in the past few years. But, I believe there is some good news in our fight against drug abuse. We seized 28 meth labs in 2004. So far, this year only 4 labs have been seized. The new law putting cold medicine behind the counter has contributed to that success. But, also enforcement and education has made for fewer arrests for metamphetamine use and possession.
What do you think needs to be done to address this issue?
We need to continue to investigate and prosecute drug offenders. We also need to work with the state and federal law enforcement to stop the importation of metamphetamine from other states and countries. The Dakota County sheriff and its members must continue to play a leadership role in our county to fight the scourge of drug abuse.
What other issues/concerns would you like to see addressed as it pertains to Dakota County law enforcement and safety? How would those decisions impact local residents?
The new crime in America is computer related crime. We started a computer forensic unit at the sheriff's office, which is staffed by a detective and civilian from our county computer department. We have assisted police departments in the county with complex computer investigations involving child porn, narcotics, sexual assault, welfare fraud, and other white collar crimes. There is a compelling need to be experts in these types of investigations. The Dakota County Sheriff's Office is one of the few law enforcement agencies in the state to take such a proactive approach to computer crimes. We need to join with other agencies, state agencies and federal agencies including the FBI and Secret Service to stay ahead of the curve in investigating computer crime.