Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Tim Franklin
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Pine County welcomes new sheriff

Sheriff-elect Jeff Nelson to be officially sworn in January 5


Jeff Nelson will be officially sworn in as sheriff of Pine County on January 5.

Monday, Pine County will have a new sheriff.

Jeff Nelson will officially be sworn in on Monday, January 5, at 10 a.m. at the Pine County board room in Pine City.

Since the election, it has been a very busy time for Nelson as he was named chief deputy of the department and has hit the ground running. Robin Cole decided not to run for re-election.

Pending county board approval, Paul Widenstrom will take over the job as chief deputy under Nelson. Widenstrom has 16 years experience as a deputy, is a K-9 handler and was also very active in the neighborhood watch program.

Structure-wise, Nelson said he would evaluate what was done in the past but additional hiring would be up to the county board to add more deputies on the street.

Another area Nelson will be looking at is squad cars. Under Cole, deputies were no longer allowed to take cars home. But allowing deputies to take home cars in the future, Nelson said, would also have to be negotiated with the deputy unions.

He also wants to develop written procedures for all deputies. Nelson said this would be good for the department and also for deputies since it would spell out expectations and protocol on various situations that deputies face out on the road.

Having stations located around Pine County has been a very good thing, Nelson said, and he will continue what Cole set in place when he was sheriff.

"Problems are broken into smaller pieces," Nelson said of the stations.

Nelson said deputies learn more about their particular area, which is a benefit to law enforcement.

Nelson is a big believer in the posse (reserve) program and also getting more people involved through neighborhood watch programs.

"It takes advantage of people's willingness to help," Nelson said, "and free information is great."

"Even people calling in with anything suspicious. I would encourage them to call with anything they see," Nelson added.

There are currently about 25 people in the reserve program and Nelson would like to see 30 or more people involved in it in the future.

As far as the budget goes, since the election, Nelson said Sheriff Cole brought him in to discuss it and that has been helpful. He has also talked to the new county attorney, Reese Frederickson, and he said having good communications will be a benefit to both departments.

"The more information, the better we do," Nelson said.


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