Two are vying for the Washington County Sheriff's seat: Paul Hoppe and Dan Starry. Although Starry is the incumbent, it is his first time running for the office. He was appointed after former sheriff Bill Hutton left the office in 2017 to direct the Minnesota Sheriffs Association.

Washington County Sheriff

Paul Hoppe

Please share a little bit about yourself, including your qualifications for sheriff. 

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Paul Hoppe

Paul Hoppe

Born and raised in Washington County, I have called the county home for most of my life. Over my 27 years I have served Oak Park Heights and Washington County for 18 years, and the past nine years as the police chief / public safety director for the City of Wyoming; overseeing all police / fire / functions. I have a master’s degree from St. Thomas University in Police Administration and graduated from the FBI National Academy. 

What can the Washington County Sheriff’s Office do to help stem the opioid epidemic? 

The opioid epidemic will require early intervention through community education and awareness, the first step to stemming the epidemic is prevention. The drug takeback program should be expanded to improve accessibility for the public, the more convenient the location are the more likely people with us them. Reducing the amount of unused prescription from our homes will reduce access to opioids by family members or others with addiction issues. Implement a scholarship program focused on helping those with addiction issues who cannot afford treatment options. We also need to work with legislators and the medical community to reduce the abuse of medically prescribed opioids by those seeking excessive prescriptions. Finally, we need to aggressively hold those importing black market opioids into our neighborhoods accountable. 

What is your current or would-be policy regarding a sheriff’s office assisting the federal government, specifically ICE, in regard to furthering that department’s current goals in dealing with illegal immigration? 

Immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government, I do not believe local government has the resources to proactively enforce immigrations laws; any more than the federal government has the resources to enforce local traffic issues. It’s important to understand what our primary responsibilities are as localized law enforcement. We would assist our federal partners under our mutual aid agreements in the event they request our assistance for safety and security concerns while performing the lawful functions of their duties. 

What kind of training are or would you implement for officers to deal with people with mental health issues? Would you entertain new ideas of law enforcement such as hiring mental health counselors rather than police officers? 

The Law Enforcement profession recognizes the need for additional de-escalation training to better prepare officers for dealing with individuals in mental health crisis, and the State of Minnesota has added the programming as part of our mandatory training requirements. If elected Sheriff, de-escalation training would be part of our regular training requirements. One of the programs I have been proposing is a collaborative partnership between law enforcement and health and human services, to ensure we have the properly trained people available while dealing with those in mental health crisis. It’s also important that those at risk have follow-up visits by HHS to ensure individuals affected are getting the necessary resources focused on a long-term treatment plans. 

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

This election is about the future of law enforcement in Washington County and who will best serve the residents and organization. I’m honored to have received the support of the Washington County Deputy’s Association as their preferred candidate to lead the department into the future. 

Dan Starry

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Dan Starry

Dan Starry

Please share a little bit about yourself, including your qualifications for sheriff.

I am currently the Washington County Sheriff, leading an outstanding agency of 256 employees and over 100 volunteers. I have spent my entire 25-year career with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and have experience in every division. My commitment and service to this agency and to the citizens of Washington County has been proven and can be trusted. I live in Stillwater with my amazing wife Jeanice. We have two daughters who have recently finished college. 

What can the Washington County Sheriff’s Office do to help stem the opioid epidemic? 

Since becoming the Sheriff, I have focused the resources of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on Prevention, Education and Enforcement. On the enforcement front, we continue to go after the cartels and frankly the doctors that overprescribe opioids in our community. Along with that, I am committed to educating and preventing those that are struggling with pain management in becoming addicted. To do this, I have partnered with County Attorney Pete Orput as well as local doctors and community organizations to spread the word about the harm these drugs can bring if not administered correctly. As Sheriff, I have also increased our Drug Take Back locations within the county. We now have more opportunity to get rid of used and unwanted medication, preventing potential diversion.

What is your policy regarding a sheriff’s office assisting the federal government, specifically U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in regard to furthering that department’s current goals in dealing with illegal immigration?

Currently it is against policy for my officers to inquire about immigration status while working in the community. I have taken the stance, along with many sheriffs and the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government and not local law enforcement. It is policy in my jail to not recognize ICE detainers if they stand alone. We will only hold criminals from our community for the prescribed time as allowed by statute in cooperation with the county attorney. My hope is that all citizens can call upon us for assistance at any time without fear of reprisals due to immigration status. We must be able to provide safety and security for all of our citizens.

What kind of training are you implementing for officers to deal with people with mental health issues? Would you entertain new ideas of law enforcement such as hiring mental health counselors rather than police officers? 

The mental health crisis facing our community is no doubt one of the most significant challenges that we face in law enforcement. As Washington County Sheriff, I started an initiative to have 100 percent of our sworn and correctional staff certified in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). Also, I am currently working on new initiatives with my partners in Community Services. We will soon have crisis response workers providing 24/7 coverage with Washington County Law Enforcement. We must also take care of the first responders in our community. If we can keep our police, fire and EMS healthy, we can better serve our community. To battle this crisis, law enforcement leaders must be open to any and all new ideas.

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

I am running to continue as your Sheriff this November. I want to continue to serve as your Sheriff because I love Washington County, the citizens and the employees I work with.  With over 25 years of service in this community, there is no place I’d rather work.

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