Harig vs. Kindler debate

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, October 14, 2010

“I don’t think we can quantify it as good or bad,” said Kindler.

While he recognized the increased revenues, he shared concerns about the longevity because of things happening on a national level.

“There’s a backlog in the federal court processing, things we have no control over,” he said.

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He said he felt the ICE contract has monopolized the issues in the sheriff’s race.

“ICE is just one small component of this office,” he said. “Our business is law enforcement and we need to get back out and concentrate on getting better to serve the citizens of Freeborn County.”

Kindler also said he would like to create an equal opportunity at the Sheriff’s Office because while there are women working in the detention center, there are currently no women deputies on the patrol staff.

“There’s a high demand for females in the field, and I want to make that happen,” he said. “Under the current sheriff’s hiring plan, that is not possible.”

Harig said that several women work in the jail, and, to his knowledge, he’s never had a women apply for a road position, adding they frequently promote from within and offer opportunities to those who wish to become licensed.

When asked about the ARMER radio system, candidates gave general information about the project, which was a $4.5 million purchase to be paid for through county bonding and a $1 million grant. Harig said initially, three vendors bid the project and Motorola was accepted under the low state bid for pricing. He said the project is currently behind schedule due to the tower slated to hold a six-foot microwave dish not being strong enough. He said this will cause a delay in finding a new tower and getting the FCC licensing.

He said that because the county didn’t have to purchase land and construct towers saved money.

Kindler said at this point it is slated to be operational in spring 2011.

The two had opposing views on 21 new patrol-car computers obtained by the Sheriff’s Office through the Minnesota State Patrol.

According to Harig, these computers had been discontinued by the patrol and agencies were urged to get these computers as systems were migrating toward ARMER. He said at this time, they are waiting to install the computers into the patrol cars.

He said the computers will use air cards and work much like a cell phone and eventually be compatible with the ARMER radios.

Kindler said the computers are outdated and inadequate for the needs of the Sheriff’s Office. He said upgrading the computers to the capacity they need them, along with licensing costs, will approach $250,000.

“We need to plan and prepare for that,” he said. “Right now, all we will get is availability for deputies to run license checks.”

Another point of contention was the Minnesota Teamsters Public and Law Enforcement Employees Union Local 320 endorsing Kindler for sheriff.

“This is an honor that didn’t happen overnight,” said Kindler. “It was built on years of trust, achieved by being a person that has trust and respect from the law enforcement community.”

Harig said that while he has respect for the Teamsters as a bargaining group, he doesn’t understand why they are reluctant to give a tally on the votes cast and not cast.

“A lot of officers never cast a ballot,” he said. “I understand their purpose but don’t believe it’s a true representation of all officers in the law enforcement community.”

Both Kindler and Harig committed to working outside of the Sheriff’s Office to develop and maintain positive relationships in the field of law enforcement and emergency management, as well as in the general public, with the media, and throughout the community.

Although Kindler did not suggest working together as one city-county law enforcement agency at this time, he suggested looking at it in the future as a viable way to save tax dollars.

“Each city and county is unique. In Pipestone, it worked,” he said. “Owatonna and Steele County looked at it, and it wasn’t going to work. Each city and county are unique, but we need to take a look at it.”

The two agreed that working to receive grant funding is absolutely necessary and both will continue to pursue grants and other fundraising efforts aggressively.

When asked what would happen in the event of losing the election, Kindler said that was an easy answer, “I’ll go to work on Nov. 3 and continue to work at the Sheriff’s Office.”

Harig responded that he would retire. “My goal is to work another four years. I’ve still got a lot of goals,” he said. “Come Nov. 3, with a little luck, we’ll congratulate each other and continue working together.”