Hello Supporters and Friends. This week I want to fill you in on my experience working in probably the most collaborative effort I have ever been involved in- the Central MN Violent Offender Task Force. I started with the task force as a team leader and moved into the task force commander role for the last 3 years. The task force is comprised of 5 counties (Stearns, Benton, Todd, Morrison and Sherburne) and 8 agencies all working toward a common goal, enforcing controlled substance laws and investigating violent offenders. I would say these are the worst of the worst criminals that are out there preying on you the public.
During the time of leading the task force, I supervised 15 investigators working the crimes that affect you the most. This was done in multi-jursidictional and multi-disciplinary fashion. Drug crimes affect you all in the fact that drug crimes often lead to other types of criminal activity, like thefts, burglaries, assaults, overdoses and overdose deaths and further strain our system by causing social service interactions with families and addiction problems that need to be dealt with by medical services. The task force worked many cases locally, statewide and nationwide partnering with agencies across Minnesota and the United States for the further good. During this time I supervised a hardworking group of people that collectively arrested 717 people for various crimes related to drug crimes, assaults, shootings and homicides. We also seized 117 pounds of drugs and 11 meth labs. We worked on 5 federal cases involving drug trafficking with some having ties to Mexican drug cartels. Even though we live in Central MN there is drug dealing here with ties to cartels. Drug dealing is about making money and boundaries mean nothing to drug dealers. We also took 197 firearms off the street from criminals dealing drugs and committing violent crimes. Many of these people were already felons and forbidden from having firearms. As part of being the task force commander I attended Stearns County Drug Court meetings in an effort to have an impact on the court system and how they deal with drug offenses and provided numerous public speaking engagements in an effort to educate you, the public on the drugs here in Central Mn.
This past spring, the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force was given the 2017 Task Force of the Year award in Minnesota for their work on numerous cases but specifically for a federal investigation that spanned 3 years (2014-2017) and covered 4 states and into Mexico. I am truly honored to have been part of that group and to have been a part of that investigation. There was a lot of work put into those investigations and this was a group effort. Everyday we went to work we were engaged in cooperative efforts to combat the drug problems.
Working the task force as the commander was like being the Chief of Police in a similar sized agency. We had 15 officers assigned to our group, our own clerical staff, our own budget, our own policy and our own fleet of vehicles and equipment. I had to produce budgets and meet with a oversight board made up of 5 Sheriffs and several police chiefs, much like a Sheriff meeting with County Commissioners. It could be challenging dealing with 8 different agencies and their specific policies and procedures and the spread out jurisdiction we covered, along with working cases statewide. Compared to most law enforcement officers who may only work a couple of multi-jurisdictional investigations in their careers, we have the opportunity to do so everyday whether it is with a small town police agency or a larger state or federal agency.
As your Sheriff I vow to continue the battle against drugs and violent crime that disturbs our public safety and tears families and communities apart. As the Sheriff of Stearns County it is important to be able to work collectively and through out many disciplines to effectively deal with the problems drugs, guns, and violence brings to our society and to have positive outcomes. As the commander I made numerous connections and contacts across the state and the country that I can reach out to, to easily locate the necessary resources and personnel to assist our area to better deal with violent criminals and controlled substances. I will continue to advocate that Stearns County be involved in task force operations as we are all stronger as a group than trying to work on problems as a individual island. The ultimate goal is to better the place where we live and to strengthen the feelings of public safety and as your Sheriff I will do so all day everyday. #SoykaForSheriff