Commissioners table Sheriff’s Office reorganization

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to table a proposed reorganization of the Sheriff’s Office, asking for a workshop to discuss the matter further.

The proposed changes included reorganizing the department to include 12 patrol deputies, two patrol sergeants, one detective, two detective/supervisors, one chief deputy and the sheriff.

Bob Kindler

In an earlier interview, Freeborn County Sheriff Bob Kindler said though the proposed changes would not bring a lot of immediate cost savings, they could bring savings in the long run — about $250,000 over a 10-year period, according to estimations using the current hourly rates. This does not include overtime and fringe benefit savings.

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The changes would also help the department to run more efficiently, he said.

The current organization of the Sheriff’s Office includes 13 patrol deputies, five detective/supervisors and the sheriff. Under former Sheriff Mark Harig, one of the detective/supervisors acted as chief deputy by title, though this was not a formal position in writing.

Freeborn County Board Chairman Dan Belshan said he was concerned with the multiple layers of supervision under the proposal and said he thought it would be premature to take action on the changes Tuesday.

“It appears to me to be layered supervisors,” Belshan said.

Commissioners Glen Mathiason and Mike Lee also voiced that they needed some questions answered before they wanted to vote on the proposal.

Kindler, who said he has thought about a reorganization of the department for several years, noted that he hoped the proposal would have passed Tuesday.

“The staff is anxious for these changes to happen. I’m anxious for these changes to happen,” he said.

He added that he is not sure why the commissioners didn’t feel comfortable voting on the proposal after he presented it to them at a workshop in March, but he noted that he must need to do a better job of explaining the changes.

Dan Belshan

Kindler said reorganizing the department was one of his campaign goals when running for sheriff.

He said his patrol deputies were looking forward to opportunities for advancement and he was looking forward to having a chief deputy to assist him in his work.

Kindler said the board will meet for another workshop to discuss the issue at the end of April, after which the changes will be brought back for vote at the board’s first meeting in May.

In other action, the board:

• Authorized the demolition of the sheep and goat buildings at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds.

A building, 60 feet by 150 feet, will be erected in their place.

Financial details of the agreement between the county and the fair board will be voted on at the commissioner’s next meeting.

It tentatively includes the county paying up to $100,000, of which will be paid back to the county over a series of years.

• Authorized the Public Health Department to submit an application for a federal grant that would be used for a Peer Breastfeeding Support program.

If the grant is awarded, the program would begin Oct. 1.

It would include hiring six peer breastfeeding support workers for 10 hours per week to provide support to pregnant and postpartum women who are on the Women, Infants and Children program. The peer counselors will be trained on how to provide support by phone, in the WIC office and on home visits.

Freeborn County Public Health Director Sue Yost said the counselors will be peers who have breastfed successful and who either have been served by WIC or who come from similar circumstances as the WIC participants.

The peer counselors will be able to free up staff time to help mothers with breastfeeding concerns.

• Approved a contract agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health regarding eliminating health disparities.

The Health Department allocates about $1,300 to the Freeborn County Public Health Department to screen refugees to see if they have been exposed to tuberculosis. Referrals are made to a physician if a screening comes back positive for exposure.

• Authorized to sell a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville and a 2005 GMC Sierra truck by means of sealed bids. Bids will be received through April 22.

• Approved the resignation of former Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Gene Arnold, who tendered his resignation in March.