by Joni Astrup
Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott credits a school guidance counselor for steering him into law enforcement.
Brott was in high school in St. Cloud when he took an assessment test and met with the guidance counselor, who suggested criminal justice would be a good fit. That prompted Brott to check out the profession by riding along with a St. Cloud police officer.
“I went on a couple ride alongs, and I was hooked,” he said. “That was it. Then I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Today Brott is in his 21st year in law enforcement and running for re-election as Sherburne County sheriff.
Brott served two years as police chief and patrol officer in Minneota and two years as a patrol officer in Redwood Falls before joining the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy in 1996. He was appointed sheriff in January 2009 when Bruce Anderson retired, and elected in 2010. He is running unopposed this fall.
Brott said he is full of gratitude for what the community has done for him and honored to serve as sheriff.
He has a list of things he’d still like to accomplish as sheriff.
One is increasing awareness of current public safety issues, starting with drug use. Community forums are being planned. The first one dealing with heroin use in Sherburne County will be held this summer, he said.
Another area of emphasis is applying strict and aggressive enforcement efforts to the sale of illegal drugs.
In other areas, he plans to research and implement a back-up dispatch center and emergency operations center if it makes sense.
He also sees his department continuing to be involved in the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Community Coalition.
Within his department he plans to enhance training by making sure every administrator goes through a staff and command school to develop new ideas and leadership. In addition, Brott said his office recently developed a leadership program for all sheriff’s office employees that will start this fall.
The sheriff’s office recently completed the department’s first five-year strategic plan. “Long-range planning will ensure delivery of a quality service to the community in a cost-effective manner,” he said.
Asked about his past accomplishments, Brott said he’s pleased with the multi-jurisdictional cooperation among agencies and the relationships with area police departments, the Minnesota State Patrol and other state officials.
“We really work well together and that’s been essential for all of us to provide a good, quality service to the community,” he said.
He helped spearhead scrap metal legislation, which passed the Minnesota Legislature and is aimed at thefts of scrap metal like copper wire.
The new law requires scrap metal dealers and operators to begin recording information into the Automated Property System that’s now used to record pawnshop transactions, a move to help law enforcement more easily identify the scrap metal thieves.
Other accomplishments he lists:
•An All Hazard Incident Management Team has been formed with members from various agencies. The team is deployable county wide to support small or large incidents.
•A new mobile command center is in operation and available to respond to situations such as gas leaks, bomb threats, barricaded suspects, crime scenes, special events, natural disasters, missing persons and other cases.
•In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, Brott coordinated an active shooter response plan for the Sherburne County Government Center in Elk River.
•The jail upgraded to an 800 megahertz radio platform for better communication and interoperability with other first responders. The jail has an average daily inmate population of about 575. In addition to housing local inmates, the county has contracts to house individuals for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Office, Minnesota Department of Corrections and Anoka County.
•The sheriff’s office spearheaded the Sherburne County Substance Use Prevention Coalition.
•A criminal intelligence analyst position was established within the sheriff’s office to better communicate criminal activities and patterns with area law enforcement agencies.
•Brott implemented the KIDS Choice program in area schools. The 12-week curriculum was designed by sheriff’s office employees for fifth grade students to learn about bullying prevention, internet safety, and drug and alcohol awareness and prevention.