On July 7, the County Commissioners held a meeting to discuss several items in the community. One of those was a discussion by County Sheriff Jason Kamerud about sheriff policies in response to discussions happening around the US regarding police procedures.
“I want to talk through some of the things that I’m currently doing,” said Kamerud.
According to Kamerud, Carver County’s crime rate is fairly low. This includes violent crime, property crime, and more. The statistics were measured with FBI data of the US as a whole, the state of Minnesota, and finally Carver County.
Kamerud continued, saying that when called to crimes they do their best to serve the community with five core values: respect, dignity, honor, integrity, and pride. He stated that only those who share the values are hired. The values apply to many aspects in the force, including training.
The core values even apply to third-party trainers. According to Kamerud, if an employee makes a request to receive this kind of training, the trainer is screened. The screening includes if the trainer maintains those core values, how it’s helpful to the employee compared to normal training, and how that training can be used. The employee also completes a critique for the training.
Kamerud also discussed “Warrior Training”, and how the sheriff’s office sees it.
“The proposed legislation relates to no Warrior Training,” he said. “In our organization, we really take more of a ‘guardian’ mindset not the ‘warrior’ mindset.”
Kamerud brought up when Warrior Training changed from guardianship to having hypervigilance and viewing “everyone as a threat”. While Carver County’s sheriffs are still working with the “never give up mindset”, Kamerud emphasized that they are policing for the community, and the community itself.
As such, the training in Carver County is actually more restrictive. The training encourages de-escalation through talking, banned chokeholds, requires warnings, and more to ensure that deadly force is the last possible option.
“We respect the sanctity of life,” said Kamerud.
The make certain that employees stick to their training, there are requirements to ensure that this is the case. For example, the County Attorney’s Office has to disclose dishonesty, profiling incidents, and any other incidents that can impact a case. With the Attorney’s Office helping with training while ensuring that cases go as smoothly as possible.
“We work to be proactive in this area rather than reactive,” said Kamerud.
Community complaints also lead to review as part of the policy. Everything from tactics and demeanor to misconduct are reviewed as part of the policy. If there’s a criminal complaint against an employee, an outside agency gets brought in, as Carver can’t investigate itself per policy. Carver will also do this for other sheriff’s office.
Going forward, there are a couple things the county sheriffs are considering. One thing they’re discussing is using body cams.
“This is a pretty big ask for a lot of people,” said Kamerud. “The reason we don’t all have them is because they’re expensive.”
Part of Kamerud’s term has been looking at the use of body cams, and it would initially cost $250,000 with $50,000 for every year after. There was a request in the 2021 budget to get body cams for a number of reasons, including liability and prosecution. It’s important to note that paying wouldn’t be totally on Carver County, since the cameras are per officer.
Kamerud also wants to look into an Early Warning System, which would hopefully help to find employees who are showing problematic tendencies and intervene if necessary. He’s also hoping to start Critical Conversations, which would bring citizens in from minority communities and others who have difficulty trusting law enforcement. The hope is to create understanding for both sides. Planning for these actually starts soon.
The Sheriff’s Office is also working on hiring a crisis therapist to help de-escalate crisis situations. This came after a mental health crisis in Hollywood Township.
“We’ve hired someone for this and she starts next month,” said Kamerud.
And finally, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to share information with the cities and townships of Carver County throughout these processes to help abate concerns and create understanding.
Commissioner Gayle Degler asked Kamerud to clarify the relationship between the county board and sheriff for the community. Kamerud responded that the board funds the Sheriff’s Office as well as working to create policies that the sheriffs will act on. Kamerud also stated that questions and ideas can go to him directly via phone or email.