Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard told county commissioners it’s hard getting good people to work for the county and to keep them as employees.
Goddard informed the board at its Tuesday, July 23, meeting about the sheriff’s office’s recruitment efforts, which included recently produced videos about several law enforcement job openings.
“We partnered with a local media consultant group ... trying to find our newest employees, trying to add to our staff when we have openings, etc., and give them a realistic picture of what each job description entails,” Goddard told commissioners.
For example, The sheriff’s office is accepting applications for a corrections officer, a dispatcher, a part-time deputy, a civil technology specialist and a records specialist.
“With dispatch and our communications, it’s always been difficult for us to kind of capture what that job entails and all the pluses and sometimes minuses that they’re going to face and what builds a good candidate,” Goddard said.
A five-minute video was then played for the board featuring employees talking about the qualifications a person should have if interested in becoming a dispatcher. The video was shared 60 times since it was posted July 18 on the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page.
“I was absolutely just thrilled on how good it turned out. Within about two hours of us launching this video on Facebook, I had a person that I’ve known for years contact me and is applying for our dispatch. We have an open roster right now,” Goddard said.
The sheriff's office has about 130 employees consisting of administrators, investigators, field deputies, correctional officers, dispatchers and a support unit.
“And I said, ‘Did you see the video?’” Goddard said of the applicant. “And she said, ‘Yes, that’s why I’m applying.’ She said the video was outstanding.”
The video played at the board meeting featured firsthand accounts from county 911 dispatchers explaining what it is like to work as one for those considering applying for the position.
“Being a successful Crow Wing County dispatcher is more than just answering calls,” said Amy Edberg, a 911 dispatcher in the video, which is also on YouTube. “In real time we’re telling responders everything they need to know, not only to handle the situation but to do it safely.”
The sheriff’s office provides law enforcement service to almost 62,500 full-time residents and an estimated 187,500 people during peak tourist season in the county, which is almost 1,000 square miles and includes 92,000 acres of water, according to the county’s website.
“They call in their worst moments, and in those moments we must be at our absolute best,” said Heather Norman, another 911 dispatcher in the video.
Compassion, patience, knowledge of the area, humor, investigative skills and endurance are some of the qualities an applicant must possess, according to the online video, to succeed as a 911 dispatcher.
“As a dispatcher, you must care about people and ... enjoy being the lifeline of our county -- the calm, peaceful voice in the middle of a Category 5 storm, a voice that can multitask without end, knows what to do in emergencies and does it with style, competence and grace,” Norman said.
A third video about the sheriff’s office patrol division and support staff is planned following the videos about being a county 911 dispatcher and a corrections officer, according to Goddard.
“A big shoutout to our (human resources) staff for helping us out to make this work, so I couldn’t be prouder. I think it turned out wonderful, and it really showcases the great people we’ve got,” Goddard said. “We have a hard time getting good people and keeping good people, so I hope we are moving in the right direction with this.”
Strateligent was the Brainerd-based advertising agency that produced the videos.
“It’s already bringing forward those people that watched the video and truly are interested, which I think is a big step,” Goddard said.
In other business, the county board:
Approved the hiring of Mike Patras, community services probation agent.
Approved the promotion of Robert Hall, land services senior property assessor.
Accepted the departure of Marcus Hierl, land services customer service specialist; Jamie Johnson, highway engineering aide; Cory Pekarek and Rex Smith, sheriff’s office corrections officers; Abby Eggum, human resources assistant; and Mary Weidell, community services social worker.
Authorized entering into a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District, the Big Pine Lake Association and Crosslake for the Pine River Fish Passage Project 2020, which will replace the 49-year-old Big Pine Lake Rock Dam and restore upstream and downstream passage of fish and other aquatic life. The Crow Wing Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District obtained a Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Grant in the amount of $1.25 million. The Big Pine Lake Subordinate Service District is funding the required grant match and Crosslake has agreed to any needed improvements to the city street that will be utilized as a haul road.
The memorandum replaces an earlier one approved Feb. 14, 2017, and updates the name of the grantor, grant award, grant match, responsible party for post-construction road repairs of Big Pine Trail and adds Crosslake as a partner. Contractor bids to install rock riffles to allow fish movement will be opened Aug. 20, and construction start date will be dependent on the weather and water levels but with a project completion date of Dec. 13, 2020.
Approved the county policy regarding fleet vehicle or equipment replacement. Minor changes have been added to the existing policy. The purpose of this policy is to provide staff with technical information to help with vehicle or equipment procurement and replacement for all fleet vehicles and equipment owned by the county.
Approved final payment to DLL Excavating Inc. of Little Falls for the total contract of $331,196.73 for aggregate surfacing of county roads 105 and 141, and in the first and second assessment districts.
Approved a two-year permit for a non-motorized hunter/hiking trail system for the Ruffed Grouse Society (Drumming Log-Brainerd Chapter). The permit is for a 25-foot-wide trail that runs through Mission, Timothy and Gail Lake townships and the city of Fifty Lakes.
Accepted a donation in the amount of $10,000 from the county child protection team to support the operation of the Parent Works group, facilitated by community mental health providers with the purpose of providing parenting education and support to families that are involved in the child protection system.
Updated the 2019 geographic information system fee schedule as on file in the office of the county administrative services director. The revisions included the elimination of fees associated with parcel data and “orthoimagery,” which is an aerial photograph or satellite imagery that is geometrically corrected so that the scale is uniform.