I received this message from a resident who was checking out my website HegerforSheriff.com.  The resident had some great questions and I thought others may have the same questions so in an effort to remain transparent I made the decision to answer them publicly.  Please note, the email was copied exactly as it was received.


Question

Hello and thank you for running for sheriff. You state that you will work hard to bring positive change... The question I have for you is, what changes are required within the sheriff's department?


Answer

The first thing that needs to be addressed is employee retention.  Since the current administration has been in place (January of 2011) 54 patrol deputies out of 62 ( I haven’t been unable to get a solid number but have been told 62-64) have left employment with the sheriff’s office and only 13 of those departures are due to retirement.  That is an almost 90% turnover rate.  In January of 2018 the sheriff’s office was down 10 deputies in the patrol division.  This is not common amongst other sheriff’s departments.  I contacted Scott County and they were down 0 deputies, Dakota County was down 1 and Wright County was down 5 and that was only because of 3 new deputy positions that had just been approved.  

The fiscal responsibility of the department needs to be examined.  We can’t expect deputies to cover over 10,900 hours of overtime at a cost of over $1million.  We need to hire the best employees and give them a reason to stay with the sheriff’s office.  The cost to train a new deputy is approximately $25,000 and most new employees stay a couple years before moving to other departments.  I have talked to people who have left their employment with the sheriff’s office and the reason for them leaving had little to do with pay.  In fact, the sheriff’s office has had deputies return to their old departments or move to other departments for less pay.
I plan to produce an annual report.  It is important to provide the residents, employees and county board an annual report to outline what we did the previous year as well as let everyone know the direction we are headed. 
In 2013 the sheriff’s office did an employee survey and at that time almost 85% of the 85 employees who took the survey said they had thought about leaving the sheriff’s office in the previous 2 years.  I plan to implement a yearly employee survey to gauge where we are at as an organization.  The results of the survey will help us look at what changes are needed as well as what is working well.  I believe that after this survey the sheriff’s office has not done another one as I requested all employee surveys since 2010 and received just this one. 
The right people need to be put in the right positions.  We need to build on peoples strengths and not promote someone just because they are “yes men/women” or our friend.  Many residents I have talked to have said that the sheriff’s office  "needs to get rid of the good old boys club.”  In the same 2013 survey, over 75% of the employees rated morale at the department as fair or poor.  Employees stated they have been told by their supervisors that the morale of the department is not their responsibility, I disagree.  When employees are happy it shows in the service they provide.
I plan to improve and build upon our community relations.  There are a lot of things that we can do to reach out to our community outside of the citizens academy that is currently offered.  I plan to bring programs such as “Shop with a Cop”, gun safety, snowmobile safety, fishing with a cop, etc.   I also want to see residents involved in interviews when hiring new deputies as it is important to hear from people outside of the law enforcement field.
School safety also needs to be addressed.  Schools don’t have the funds to put an officer in every school and currently the department couldn’t support it due to staffing issues.  We need to provide input on safety planning, provide security assessments, and collaborate on training.  
This is start on what needs to be changed and it will take time.  I know there will be other things that also need to be addressed.  My commitment is to hire the best staff and make the Carver County Sheriff’s Office a great place to work as well as doing our part to continue to make Carver County one of the best places to live.