Murray County at war over 'hostile work environment' claims at sheriff's office

Murray County commissioners have called for the local sheriff's resignation.

Murray County is embroiled in a row between its Board of Commissioners and the local sheriff, who has been accused of creating a "hostile work environment" for his employees.

Commissioners for the southwest Minnesota county last week asked for Sheriff Steve Telkamp's resignation, after seeing the results of an external investigation into video footage that showed him on an abusive tirade in front of staff .

Telkamp, who has held the post for 16 years, rejected the calls for resignation and, angered by his department's treatment by the board, has announced he intends to run for re-election this November.

The county board can't fire Telkamp, as he's an elected official.

But on Thursday, it did appoint law enforcement veteran Mark Nipp as the county's interim director of sheriff. He'll be tasked with overseeing personnel matters at the sheriff's office for the remainder of Telkamp's current tenure.

"Sheriff Telkamp will retain every law enforcement right he has as your elected Sheriff, but the county is taking as much action as possible, under due process of the law, to protect its employees from hostile conduct and retaliation," the county said in a statement to BMTN.

"[Mr. Nipp] will be available to the employees in the Sheriff’s Department to discuss and address any concerns of harassment or discrimination and may take action to address and remedy the situations as they arise."

Today's Top Stories

– Sheriff asks for people's help finding missing Pine County woman.

– 2 killed in rollover crash in Shoreview.

– Want more stories? Sign up for our daily newsletters.

What's it all about?

The investigation was sparked by four videos dating back to November, which  show Telkamp ranting in front of staff. The commission said this was evidence of a hostile work environment.

You can read the full report here, in which Telkamp is accused of ranting in an "abusive," "profane" and even "sexually-charged" manner, featuring "hostile and offensive" comments made about the commissioners and the county coordinator, Aurora Heard.

In one of the videos seen by BMTN, Telkamp calls refers to commissioners as a "p---y board" and threatens the city with a possible lawsuit.

The investigation report also claims he threatened the job of a female dispatcher who is related to a county commissioner he referred to as "f-----g retarded" and a "failed f---."

After reading the investigator's report, commissioners said they had no choice but to ask for his resignation. 

But Telkamp, in a statement issued to the Worthington Globe last week, says the commission first asked him to resign in February, claiming they threatened to "release a video that would be damaging to my reputation" if he didn't.

Telkamp says he was venting about comments made by commissioners during an open meeting, in which they allegedly talked about terminating employees, reducing hours and cutting salaries at the sheriff's office.

He apologized for his actions, saying he was concerned for his employees, and several local residents attended a commission meeting on Tuesday to show their support for Telkamp – with some arguing his future should be decided by voters in November, as KSFY reports.

"I hope that Murray County, as a community, will not judge my 16-year career on a 7 minute video that they put together," Sheriff Telkamp wrote in the Globe. "My passion for my employees and this community got the best of me during that time, for that, I apologize."

Next Up

police lights

AMBER Alert: Missing 2-year-old found safe

The alert was issued Sunday evening.

Irv Cross

NFL Pro-Bowler, Twin Cities broadcaster Irv Cross dies at 81

Cross was a Pro Bowl cornerback, but his biggest impact was made after his career.


Here's how much snow fell in Minnesota on Sunday

Some localized areas saw more than expected.

Lindsay Guentzel

For The Week: What's harder than making a meal plan? Sticking to it!

Lindsay Guentzel says you shouldn't give up on your meal planning routines.

snow, plow

Winter storm warnings issued as snow system shifts in Minnesota

The worst of the snow will now hit further north, affecting areas including St. Cloud and the I-94 corridor.

Matt Dumba

Matt Dumba beats the clock to give Wild sixth straight win

Dumba scored as overtime came to a close for another Wild victory.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Bradley Beal terrorizes Timberwolves in loss to Wizards

Beal and the Wizards handed the Wolves their seventh straight defeat.

Marcus Carr / Gopher basketball

Gophers tourney hopes take another blow with loss to Nebraska

Marcus Carr scored a career-high 41 points, but Minnesota is still winless on the road.


FBI and sheriff's office continue spat over Wetterling investigation

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office hit back after a former FBI agent held a press conference.

Chisago County sheriff retires, citing health reasons

He has been sheriff since 2010, after serving in Minneapolis before that.

Dakota County Sheriff identifies sergeant involved in fatal shooting

He has been with the sheriff's office for more than 20 years.

Hennepin County's longest-serving sheriff has died

Authorities say he helped shape the sheriff's office into what it is today.

Son of Hennepin County Sheriff is facing child porn and solicitation charges

Ryan Stanek is accused of trying to arrange meetings for sex with 13- and 14-year-old girls.

Stray bullet hits Twin Cities sheriff's house

A scary moment for the sheriff and his sleeping family.


County GOP's 'Prepare for War' post fuels existing tensions over extremism in Hudson area

The post by the St. Croix County GOP sparked condemnation from local law enforcement, and state party leaders.

Screen Shot 2020-01-06 at 1.38.24 PM

Carver County Sheriff gets thank you note from jail inmate

The writer thanks the sheriff for the facilities at the local jail.