Elect Charles Rolbiecki for Winona County Sheriff

Platform Key Points

A sheriff that spends either all their time solely in the office or all their time out of the office in the field is not efficient.  To be the most effective sheriff possible, I believe there must be a balance between administrative time and visibility in our communities.  It is extremely important for a sheriff to not only be in the office overseeing administrative items such as budgets and scheduling, but also be present and hands-on in the communities to be a valuable resource for deputies, investigators, and Winona County citizens.  By providing a balanced approach, I can hear the concerns firsthand of citizens, see the struggles personnel is encountering, and be better positioned to lead as I can take this information back to the office to make the necessary changes needed on the administrative side.

A balanced, hands-on approach also enhances mutual respect between officers, citizens, and the sheriff.  It is important that citizens and officers feel comfortable to approach me easily with questions and concerns.  I am always eager to listen and will take time to accommodate people’s needs.  While I cannot guarantee a desired outcome, I will always listen and work diligently to resolve issues that all may have.

Winona County’s public safety division is multifaceted.  There are a significant number of duties carried out by the Winona County sheriff’s department each day.  We operate 365 days a year, 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day to cover and provide law enforcement services to our 625 square mile county.  The vast number of duties performed by the Winona County Sheriff’s Office during this time include overseeing and operating the county jail and dispatching for first responders, fire departments, medical personnel, and all officers in Winona County responding to calls for service.  We also investigate civil and criminal complaints including drug activity, maintain police records for Winona County, participate in court, and serve all the civil process orders and legal documents for court.  In addition, we are also responsible for patrolling water ways in the county including the Mississippi River, maintaining a water patrol unit and dive rescue team, and coordinating with a dedicated volunteer search and operations rescue team.  Lastly, we also issue all permits to carry and permits for the purchase of handguns.

With so much to do and a finite number of staff, our office will prioritize public safety as the severity requires to make sure we can accommodate our large county entirely.

As sheriff, it is also a priority for me to make sure staff is taken care of and they get home safe to their families each day.  I believe that work should be distributed evenly and that everyone should work as a team from dispatch, to responding officers, to investigators.  The staff is the backbone of the sheriff’s department.  Without adequate staffing, the department cannot operate effectively and efficiently for citizens. I will strive to maintain an appropriate level of staffing so that our communities and citizens are served properly.

I believe community policing is very important for police and communities to grow together.  Everyone deserves to feel safe and be safe in their community.  Today, we typically only see people on the worst days of their lives.  When they reach out for our help and problem-solving expertise, we often see people scared, nervous, angry, and often frustrated.  We need people to feel safe, feel heard, and believe that we are taking their problems seriously.  Community policing or having officers taking an active role in the community, can diminish some of that uneasiness when calls for service do arise.  To achieve this, Winona County officers should not just be seen and heard when there is a problem, but rather should be welcomed and available during times of peace also. They should be a permanent fixture in our communities and not viewed as only present when there is something negative happening.  To achieve this, it is vital for officers to get out of their patrol cars and be more active in meeting citizens and business owners and participating in community events.  Not only will they begin to gain trust in each other, but they can hear concerns and better understand the community’s needs through mutual respect and the sharing of information.

My helpful, friendly service attitude does not stop at just people.  Domestic animal care is important to me as well as our wildlife.  Pets are not able to fend or take care of themselves and I believe human owners need to be responsible for their pets.  I am passionate about abolishing animal cruelty and will fight to keep animals safe and cared for properly also.

Some of the toughest calls that our department deals with are calls for people needing mental health services.  We receive these every day.  Mental health crisis situations can be a life-threatening incident in which an individual is threatening immediate harm to self or others, is severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, or is otherwise out of control.  The services available in Winona County are very limited often forcing the human service department and law enforcement to resort to Rochester or other cities to take severe cases.

One of my goals is to work towards implementing a better collaborative system with health care professionals locally to meet the mental health needs of our citizens in Winona County.  Some of my ideas center around training, getting crisis workers more involved with us in the field, and finding ways to better handle response calls so issues can be addressed on site. It is our goal that we can learn to better assist citizens that need mental health services, especially on repeated calls, and find a way to diminish the frustration of all involved.

While I have provided an overview of a few topics important to me, I would love to hear of any others that you have concerns or questions about.  Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience and I will get back to you as soon as a I am able.

Charles Rolbiecki