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Ramsey County sheriff, county manager quarrel over civil unrest funding

Sheriff Bob Fletcher has been in a dispute with the county manager over the reimbursement.
Bob Fletcher

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher is asking the board of commissioners for $750,000 in reimbursements to cover costs associated with the recent civil unrest.

Fletcher’s request comes after he stated the county manager, Ryan O’Connor, has refused to support the reimbursement, which would cover personnel costs from the county’s response to civil unrest between Jan. 1 and April 16.

In a statement released Friday, Fletcher accused O'Connor of trying to "defund law enforcement" by now paying for the additional costs, something he says is "truly shameful."

“Protecting citizens, protesters, individual rights, property, and government services are complex tasks requiring an adequate complement of trained law enforcement officers. These efforts have a cost associated with them," Fletcher said.

A statement from Fletcher said that O’Connor did not support the reimbursement during a court-mediated session on Thursday.

But Ramsey County spokesperson John Siqveland told the Pioneer Press that any budget shortcomings from the Sheriff’s Office comes down to decisions made by Fletcher.

“The sheriff’s office controls an annual budget of $62 million,” Siqveland said. “It appears Sheriff Fletcher is having difficulty understanding how to manage it.”

Fletcher also pointed to past budget cuts to the Sheriff’s Office budget, including $1.175M last fall.

“Last year the Sheriff proposed $550,000 be added to the 2021 budget. Not only did the County Manager not approve the request, he instead recommended a $1,175,000 budget cut while knowing the likelihood of civil unrest was extremely high,” a release from Fletcher read.

But Siqveland again pushed back, telling the Pioneer Press that all areas of county government had to handle cuts in 2021 in order to balance the budget after a turbulent pandemic year.

“All areas of the county organization are expected to professionally manage resources effectively, efficiently and nimbly on behalf of Ramsey County taxpayers,” Siqveland said.

Costs associated with civil unrest this year included resources used during the inauguration of President Joe Biden as well as in Brooklyn Center following the police killing of Daunte Wright earlier this month, with the sheriff's office among the agencies called in to provide support.

Fletcher said he anticipates his office will incur further costs associated with civil unrest this year.

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners will consider Fletcher’s request on May 18. 

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