MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Five of seven Hennepin County Commissioners and a member of Minneapolis City Council have joined the call for Sheriff Dave Hutchinson to resign following his drinking and driving conviction last month.
Hutchinson admitted to drinking before driving his county-owned SUV in the early morning of December 8 in Alexandria after leaving a Minnesota Sheriff’s Association conference. His blood alcohol content was almost double the legal limit, and investigators say Hutchinson has repeatedly denied being behind the wheel within hours of the crash.
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District 3 Commissioner Marion Greene, who chairs the County Council, tweeted Thursday that Hutchinson’s’ actions and subsequent comments eroded public confidence [in] its ability to serve and enforce the law fairly. She also wrote that several residents in her neighborhood had contacted her to tell her how “drunk driving affected them and / or their loved ones.”
District 4 Commissioner Angela Conley also tweeted On Thursday, she wants Hutchinson to resign immediately to “make room for a leader who can do this work in a healthy place.”
“Since he refused, the power rests with the county’s 1.2 million people to fire him next November,” Conley wrote.
District 6 Commissioner Chris LaTondresse released a statement Thursday calling for Hutchinson’s resignation, writing that the sheriff “has put lives at risk and violated laws he has sworn to uphold and enforce.” The commissioner also alluded to a comment Hutchinson made during last month’s WCCO interview with journalist Jennifer Mayerle. When asked if he had ever driven drunk before the morning he crashed, Hutchinson replied “Everyone has done it at some point”.
“This breach of trust makes the promise of public safety much more difficult, especially for those who sacrifice and serve our community every day in their role in the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office,” LaTondresse wrote.
District 2 Commissioner Irene Fernando said on Twitter Wednesday that she sent a letter to the sheriff urging him to resign, calling his actions “serious” and saying that “his comments since the accident are unjustifiable.”
“The only way to maintain the dignity of the sheriff’s office and show respect for the laws you have sworn to uphold is to resign immediately,” Fernando wrote.
READ MORE: ‘What happened is inexcusable’: Sheriff Hutchinson of Hennepin Co. says he will not resign after DWI conviction
Fernando said sheriff’s comment to Mayerle on drunk driving “harmfully normalizes unsafe behavior and disrespect to some 120 Minnesota families who have lost loved one in alcohol-related crashes in 2021 ”.
The commissioner also said she spoke with Hutchinson on the phone several days after the crash, urging him to take time off and seek treatment.
“You do not agree at all, and since you are an elected official, I do not have the power to put you on leave,” Fernando wrote.
District 1 Commissioner Jeffrey Lunde, county public safety chairman, also announced Wednesday evening that he “agreed” with Fernando.
“With the current tense climate around public safety, an incident like this involving the Hennepin County public safety official must be resolved,” Lunde wrote in a statement. “Trust has to be earned, and I know accountability is key to building and maintaining that trust. “
Minneapolis City Council Member Jamal Osman Thursday wrote on Twitter that he thinks Hutchinson should step down and focus on his recovery.
“I hope he takes care of himself, that he is in good health and that he works to restore the confidence that this incident has shattered. But he is not fit to be the County Sheriff. Hennepin for now and is expected to step down, ”Osman wrote.
Sheriff Hutchinson also told Mayerle in last month’s interview that he has no plans to step down and will run again.
Minnesota State Senator Omar Fateh also called for Hutchinson’s resignation last month, saying in part “I believe in second chances when it comes to chemical addiction, but the road to redemption requires responsibility.”
NO MORE NEWS: MN State Senator Calls Sheriff Dave Hutchinson of Hennepin Co. to Resign Over DWI
Hutchinson was convicted of fourth degree DWI last month and agreed, as part of his plea deal, to undergo random drug and alcohol testing. He is also prohibited from drinking alcohol and committing driving offenses. He told Mayerle last month that he had quit drinking.