Sheriff Sandvik stepping away to address medical issues

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Comes into the wake of concerns of conduct while on the job

 

Sheriff Steve Sandvik is temporarily stepping away to address what are being termed as medical issues in the wake of an allegation concerning conduct in mid-November.

In a statement to the Herald Wednesday and on his Steve Sandvik for Sheriff Facebook page, Sandvik said he was taking a leave of absence to address these issues.

“As the elected sheriff, I serve the citizens of Mower County. I take this responsibility seriously. In order to continue serving the residents with the expectations I put on myself, I need to step away to handle a variety of medical issues,” Sandvik said. “Please understand, these types of medical decisions are personal. During my brief absence, I ask for privacy needed so I can get back soon. The team we have assembled at the Mower County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide uninterrupted services during my absence.”

According to County Administrator Trish Harren, the incident in question revolved around an unnamed subject who reported on Nov. 16, that Sandvik was acting out of character and it was believed he was intoxicated. 

“That concern was not verified with a blood test or PBT,” Harren said. “In the absence of the sheriff admitting to that allegation, it remains an allegation.”

Further details of the incident were not disclosed, but according to a press release from Harren, issued Wednesday, the county retained outside counsel to provide legal advice, however, because he’s elected Sandvik isn’t subject to employment policies of the county.

“Sheriff Sandvik is an elected official and not subject to employment policies. As an elected official he takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and to abide by the law. He answers to the voters every four years at election time. He was re-elected on November 8th and will start his second term in office in January.”

There currently are no criminal or civil charges pending and Harren said that she doesn’t anticipate there will be charges brought against Sandvik.

Neither the county nor Sandvik spoke directly to specific issues, but in the county’s press release Harren said the county was aware of the decision and actively communicating with Sandvik.

“Sheriff Sandvik has advised this office that he is choosing to reduce work commitments to address a HIPPA protected medical issue,” Harren said. “He continues to have communication with Sheriff’s Office leadership and remains apprised of operations. He is in communication with the County Board and this office.”

Chief Deputy Mark May and Captain Dave Pike are currently handling day to day operations and remain in close contact with Sandvik. 

“This is standard for any department in the county – the chief deputy of that department is the next in command and takes over in the absence of the department head,” Harren said.

No time table was given as to Sandvik’s return.