COLFAX — Kevin Bygd is the Republican candidate on the ballot in the November 6 election for Dunn County sheriff.
Bygd, a Boyceville resident, has worked for the Dunn County sheriff’s department for 29 years and is the captain of field services. He grew up in Prairie Farm and graduated from Prairie Farm High School in 1988. His father grew up in the Town of New Haven, and his mother grew up in the Town of Sheridan. Bygd and his wife have been married for 21 years and have three daughters.
During his time at the sheriff’s department, Bygd has worked as a jailer, dispatcher, patrol deputy and as a firearms instructor. He became captain of field services in 2013 and is third in command at the sheriff’s department behind the sheriff and the chief deputy.
The Colfax Messenger and the Glenwood City Tribune Press Reporter sent out a questionnaire to Bygd and to the Democratic candidate, Rodney Dicus.
Here are Bygd’s answers to the questionnaire:
• From your point of view, what are the top three issues facing the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department?
Drug abuse, mostly meth and opioid abuse, in our society is as high as I’ve ever seen it in my 29 years at the sheriff’s office. The general public may not see or may not realize the toll that this issue is having locally, but I would estimate that 90% of our property crimes (thefts and burglaries) are related to drug addiction. That makes all of our insurance rates go up; both health and property insurance take a hit on this one.
Mental health issues. Some mental health issues go hand in hand with substance abuse, either drug or alcohol, but not all. As first responders to a mental health crisis, we see firsthand the effects these issues are having on the families and other people close to individuals battling mental health issues. We need to continue to provide the best resources possible so that we can help get people back on track to lead a life they truly desire and are meant to live.
Budget shortfalls. The Dunn County Board of Supervisors is faced with some very difficult decisions with the overall county budget. The Sheriff’s Office Administration struggles to get what money it can to both keep our community safe and our staff safe while doing their job.
• Prioritize those three issues, and then describe how you would approach the issues or what you would do to help find a solution.
It’s difficult to prioritize these issues because they can be so intertwined. Without the taxpayer’s money to support the battle we have with these social issues, we are going to keep finding ourselves in a deeper hole at a cost to the taxpayers one way or another. I believe we are doing a lot of things right and are heading in the right direction, and that’s something I will continue to do. I will continue working with stakeholders in mental health services as I’ve done for the past several years. The goal is to provide better and more efficient mental health services to those in need. By continuing to train every deputy on crisis intervention techniques when it comes to mental health issues, our agency can best provide for those in a time of crisis.
I will focus more resources toward drug enforcement and working with the Criminal Justice Collaboration Council and our jail programs to help people get back on track to become drug-free, productive members of our society.
I will work collaboratively with our county Board of Supervisors to continue providing excellent service to the citizens of Dunn County in the most effective, efficient and fiscally responsible way.
• What could Dunn County residents do to help provide solutions for these issues?
First, make good choices yourself, do your best as parents, and teach your kids right from wrong. We as a society can’t rely on someone else to do it. Kids only spend about seven hours a day with a school teacher, Monday through Friday, September through May. They may see a deputy teaching D.A.R.E. for less than an hour once a week, part of the school year in fifth grade and maybe again in seventh grade. Raising good kids starts in the home. Establish a strong foundation by providing them with the best home you can with consistent guidance, love and support, which will give them an opportunity to succeed in life. Once you’ve done that for your kids, they will find their own path and make their own choices. We know they won’t always be the right ones, but at least you’ve given them the tools to get them started.
Second, continue to support your local law enforcement. We are very fortunate to feel as though we have the community’s support in our efforts. No one enjoys getting a speeding ticket, but my hope is that people can understand that it serves a greater purpose, which is to keep our roadways safe. Let your local county board member know how important our emergency services are to keeping our community protected and schools safe for our kids.
Third, if you see something, say something. When information is provided to us, we can provide better service to the community. With limited personnel, we can’t be everywhere. So if you see what you believe is suspicious activity in your neighborhood, let us know. For example, write down license plates coming and going from a suspected drug house and provide us with that information.
• Other comments/ Is there anything else you would like Dunn County residents to know?
In my 29-year career with Dunn County, I have worked hard to learn new tasks and have pursued opportunities to prepare myself to be a leader for this agency. I have tried to be fair with people while still doing my job to keep this community safe.
When I was a young jail officer, I treated prisoners in the jail with respect and dignity, as you hope I would if it was your son or daughter in that situation. As a patrol deputy, I changed flat tires and helped people get their car running alongside the road. I have dropped people off at a hotel instead of taking them to jail like I could have.
As the civil process deputy, I gave people a chance to drive the car I was repossessing to the sheriff’s office instead of calling a tow truck because I knew they would end up paying for it in the long run. As a patrol sergeant, I’ve had that uncomfortable conversation with a deputy after they made a mistake and told them to never let it happen again, when it easily could have been a letter of reprimand.
As the captain, I have let people take a day or two off on short notice, just because I knew they needed it for personal reasons and I didn’t ask questions. I’ve done all of these things throughout my career with no intentions of benefiting from it someday, only because it was the right thing to do. I share these stories because I’ve been reminded of them during my campaign and I want you to know the type of person I am — and I hope it’s the kind of sheriff you’d like to have. I ask for your vote on November 6th.