Archived Story

Freeborn County sheriff’s race has many issues

Published 9:32am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Guest column by Kurt Freitag

I have read Sheriff Bob Kindler’s announcement for his intent to run for re-election (Tribune, May 11), and I’d like to comment on his claims of accomplishments over the last three years.

Kurt Freitag
Kurt Freitag

Restructuring: It’s great to restructure, but you have to have a clear, workable structure when you’re done. We now have the least amount of patrol deputies working the road, with the highest number of deputies in admin positions. On most day shifts, there is only one patrol deputy. Many times, the deputy performs little to no patrolling because the deputy is the only one taking calls, investigating those cases and preparing comprehensive reports.

Mr. Kindler’s restructuring also ensures the chief deputy, the detective supervisor (who retired on April 25), two sergeants and Mr. Kindler himself all supervise that one patrol deputy. Not only is this silly, but it’s a dangerous atmosphere for the deputy who works alone.

As your sheriff, I would make better use of our personnel to always benefit the people of our county.

Wasteful spending: We no longer practice with our firearms because Mr. Kindler says it’s too expensive. We’re also not going to investigate some crimes which occur under rare circumstances because of minimal costs involved. Also, there has never been an email or directive from Mr. Kindler addressing “needless overtime.” Deputies are very careful with OT and many of us actually give the county the first 15 minutes for free. Mr Kindler has had zero impact on overtime.

Increased professionalism: Freeborn County leads the state in not investigating reported cases of child abuse (source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 20, 2014). This is very sad, and unfortunately, it’s expected under Mr. Kindler’s “leadership.” Cronyism breeds a culture of entitlement and incompetence. When he was a detective under Sheriff Mark Harig, he led the way on doing as little as possible, and his data shows that he did next to nothing during those eight years.

Morale: Raised morale? He’s taken us to new lows. There are detention deputies and licensed deputies who will leave if he wins a second term. Morale is so bad in the jail that detention deputies won’t answer their phones when they are called to fill an overtime shift. Because of this, patrol deputies are sent to their homes to bang on their doors to get them to come in.

Flushed revenue: While Mr. Kindler pats himself on the back for saving nickels and dimes, he hasn’t blinked at wasting close to $2 million each year he has been sheriff. He has neglected the ICE contract, and he has instructed transport deputies to tell ICE personnel in Bloomington that our facility is full and Freeborn County cannot take more detainees when our jail, in fact, is nowhere near full.

In reality, our jail always has less than half the detainees from when Sheriff Harig was in charge (100 detainees). Mr. Kindler has lost revenue with the ICE contract by:

• Reducing ICE detainee numbers by more than half.

• Losing of commissary income (close to $90,000 yearly).

• Failing to hire new detention deputies to replace those who resigned.

• Failing to renegotiate the $77 per-detainee-per-day rate in January 2011 as ICE advised. We should be in the area of $90 to 96 per detainee per day.

• Paying the medical service company the same amount of money although we have less than half the population.

• Increasing per meal costs with the smaller amount of detainees.

ICE has permanent detainees in East Grand Forks, N.D. I will do everything I can to get as many of those detainees in our facility and get our numbers back up. I will also get our agreement back with Prisoner Transport Services, which Mr. Kindler canceled, costing us another $100,000 over four years.

This letter doesn’t even begin to address the number of civil liabilities that Mr. Kindler exposes the taxpayer to every day. Speaking of lawsuits, Mr. Kindler, the chief deputy and Freeborn County are named as defendants in federal court — all due to a fundamental lack of leadership.

Between the Army, Army National Guard and law enforcement, I have been in public service all my adult life.  I believe in bettering my community, and as your sheriff, I can effectively serve Freeborn County in a greater capacity. As a sidenote, I’m in this for service to our county, and if elected, I won’t sue our county to raise my salary.

 

Kurt Freitag is a candidate for Freeborn County sheriff and is a deputy with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office.