Sheriff Smith visits Colfax Village Board

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith paid a visit to the Colfax Village Board June 23 to talk about his candidacy for sheriff.

Dunn County Medical Examiner Chris Kruse of Boyceville also has announced his candidacy for sheriff and will be on the ballot with Smith in the August primary.

Smith noted that he is in his 14th year as sheriff and that he has been in law enforcement for 38 years.

Although budgets have become increasingly tight, Sheriff Smith said he has been able to add three deputies to the sheriff’s department over the last 14 years.

Dunn County deputies are encouraged to cover the whole county and not just to drive around in circles, killing time on their shift, while they are waiting for a call, he said.

“I always tell my deputies to treat people the way they would want to be treated,” Sheriff Smith said.

Dunn County brings a certain amount of manpower to Colfax, particularly for drug raids, but those who are arrested end up out on bail and then are arrested again and again, noted Scott Gunnufson, village president.

Gunnufson said he knew it was out of the police department’s hands and the sheriff’s deputies’ hands and up to the courts, but that village residents are still frustrated with the drug offenders and other offenders coming back to Colfax over and over.

Sheriff Smith said he receives telephone calls about activity going on in Colfax and that he has instructed his deputies to do “direct patrol” in Colfax.

Colfax’s new police chief, Bill Anderson, “will be a good asset to Colfax,” Sheriff Smith said.

People who want to apply for a position as a deputy with the Dunn County Sheriff’s department must have at least 60 college credits or an associate degree before they can apply, he said.

“I do not want them to be over-zealous, but I do not want them to sit on their hands, either,” Sheriff Smith said.

In 2,000, Dunn County deputies arrested 58 people who had been drinking out of a total population of around 40,000. Pepin County in the same year arrested 54 people for alcohol violations with a total population of 8,400, he said.

For a few years, Dunn County deputies arrested nearly 250 people annually for alcohol violations, Sheriff Smith said.

In the last few years, between 150 and 200 arrests have been made annually for alcohol, he said.

Over the past few years, Dunn County has had five or six traffic fatalities each year, although years ago, the rate of traffic fatalities was between 12 and 14 per year, he said.

Both Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith and challenger Chris Kruse are running as Democrats.

No Republican candidates filed nomination papers for the position.