The head of the Minnesota Sheriffs Association distanced his organization from public comments made Wednesday by a member of its board of directors criticizing the Minneapolis Police Department.
Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer, who sits on the advisory board of the State Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, said wednesday that the Sheriff’s Association is “ready to write a letter saying that we absolutely denounce everything that happens with the Minneapolis Police Department.”
But Bill Hutton, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association and a retired Washington County Sheriff, said the group had not considered writing such a letter and had not had any conversations about it.
Hutton said that although Deringer represents the association on the advisory board, his statement did not represent the views of the association.
“The comments that have been made by Sheriff Deringer are his comments,” Hutton said. “Sheriff Deringer is a very good leader and he is also very passionate. As you can imagine, these comments were made out of passion.
At the meeting, after being asked about statewide standards for disciplining police officers, Deringer broke the proverbial blue wall of silence and launched a three-minute rant about the MPD, claiming he had “finished” defending the ailing department after seeing body camera video Showing a SWAT team driving through Minneapolis in an unmarked van at night, firing rubber bullets at protesters without warning.
Deringer apologized to fellow advisory board members, saying he wrongly told them “cops don’t do that”, and said the MPD needed a “top-down” overhaul .
Minnesota’s 87 counties are divided into six districts, each represented by two sheriffs, who sit on the association’s board of directors. Deringer represents District 4 in central and eastern Minnesota.
Deringer did not respond to a request for comment. He said on Wednesday he asked officers during a recent in-house training whether they would expect to be fired if they behaved like MPD officers.
“All 160 of my cops understand that if they did something like this, they would fully expect them to be fired” he said. “I don’t need a criminal finding that they shot someone without cause with a bean bag. I’d kick them on the sidewalk faster than you can imagine.
When asked if Deringer’s comments caused any consternation within the association, Hutton said: “I have had conversations with sheriffs.” But he wouldn’t say how the association stands on the MPD issue, saying it’s like a family, with a lot of points of view.
When asked if Deringer was in trouble, Hutton said no.
“He’s a really nice guy, and he’s really passionate.”
Deringer was outraged by the bodycam videos made public during the The Jaleel Stallings affair showing MPD agents being told to “F *** up” protesters, then firing rubber bullets at protesters on Lake Street, celebrating the direct hits and having fun.
MPD agents did not tell investigators they fired first when they encountered Stallings, and their conflicting accounts of the incident were later contradicted by body camera footage. Stallings was acquitted by a jury of eight counts, including attempted murder. An internal investigation of the agents is currently underway.
When asked about Deringer’s criticism, MPD spokesman Garrett Parten said in an email: “Out of professional courtesy and out of respect for Sheriff Deringer’s leadership position, the Minneapolis Police Department reserves the right to right not to make public comments at this time.