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

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Sheriff, County Attorney first in the state


February 21, 2019

Jana Peterson

County Attorney Lauri Ketola (left) and Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake.

"Our Sheriff and County Attorney have made history,' explained County Coordinator Dennis Genereau. "This is the first time in Minnesota history when a County's law enforcement leaders are both women. It is a good example again that Carlton County leads the way in positive change."

"I hadn't given it much thought," Sheriff Kelly Lake noted. "I am just happy that I know I can work well with our County Attorney. We lead by example. I look at my 9 year old daughter and see a person that can open any door and become whatever role in life she desires. That gives me great satisfaction."

County Attorney Lauri Ketola responded, "I have only been on the job for about a month and a half. I am pleasantly surprised to be able to work with so many quality people. Working hand in hand with Sheriff Lake will go smoothly, I believe, to strengthen our law enforcement for a safe area to work and raise families. Our citizens deserve that."

The interview with Lake and Ketola was far ranging and the following observations by them speak well for these County officials.

"My office strives for a partnership between us in law enforcement and the community," explained the Sheriff. "TRIAD has created a strong relationship with senior citizens. A fair booth at the Carlton County Fair provides 1:1 time with County residents and numerous presentations throughout the community over the years and being available to speak at local gatherings strengthens that partnership."

Ketola added, "We also are citizens of this community. Success of the programs the Sheriff and I oversee affects all our families and will affect us and our relatives. I loved to talk to and listen to each person I met on the campaign and at the County Fair. I will work to continue an open dialogue with the citizens."

In the Sheriff's Office there is 55 full time staff – 56 with the Sheriff. Staff covers many services: Patrol/Investigations/Special Enforcement, Court Security/Transport, Administrative/Clerical Support, Jail, 9-1-1 Communications, and Emergency Management. Part time civilian bailiffs work Court proceedings. Supervision is provided for 25-30 volunteers that serve in the Sheriff's Posse and as Sheriff's Office Chaplains.

Of the 24 licensed staff used in patrol/investigations/special enforcement it is still a male dominated job with two deputies and the Sheriff female. All the five Administrative staff is female. In the Jail 6 out of the 17 staff are female. The Jail requires that a male and female be both on duty for the same coverage period. Four of the dispatchers are female.

The Sheriff's Office has an annual budget for 2019 of approximately $6,285,000 with about $750,000 in revenues to offset those expenditures.

Sheriff Lake explained, "The needs in law enforcement have changed. Jails have become de facto intervention sites for mentally ill and chemically dependent. We cannot cover treatment for those incarcerated. Rather than just holding people we are trying to be pro-active. We are now partnering with Public Health, HDC, the ACT team, and Birch Tree which provides a mobile treatment team that comes to the jail site."

The County Attorney's Office operates with just over $1 million for the 2019 budget year. Of the 5 assistant County Attorneys 3 are male and 2 female. One witness protection coordinator and 4 administrative staff are all female. The four public defenders are two males and two females.

County Attorney Ketola went on to say, "It is too early to say how I will optimize the talent I have in my staff. I do know that we need a new software program to not only access data easily but provide a bridge to share information easily with the Sheriff's department. It will take time. I am not a stranger to a 12 hour work day. I need to know what's going on and encourage transparency and trust to get the job done well."

The Sheriff responded to the question what are the building plans for a jail, "All options are on the table. I am waiting for the County Board to decide how large a jail will be built and how to pay for it. I know that the Judges of the 6th Judicial District have wanted three courtrooms at the Courthouse. Remodeling is just part of the cost. Full-time security for the building is needed but requires more staff to do the job."

Questioned on the number of conceal and carry permits, the Sheriff said 2455 permits have been issued as of the day of the interview. Lake commented, "The laws have changed and there are strict guidelines I have to follow to whether to give a permit or deny it. At one time the Sheriffs had much greater power over the issuance of those permits."

Both the Sheriff and the County Attorney agreed that more bench time (available judges and courtrooms) is needed for the type of cases and crimes that are being handled with the current legal staff. Ketola commented, "Moving cases along in the court system more quickly will save on jail costs and in fact bring about more positive outcomes."

The Sheriff said she started as a deputy in 1989, only the third woman to be a deputy in Carlton County up to that point, and eventually became the Sheriff in 2005. The County Attorney is no stranger to the County Attorney's office. She served as an Assistant County Attorney until 1998.


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