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The next sheriff: Board appoints Dan Starry by unanimous vote

The Washington County Board of Commissioners appointed Dan Starry as the next sheriff March 14. Pictured (from left) are Commissioners Karla Bigham, Gary Kriesel, Lisa Weik and Fran Miron, Starry and Commissioner Stan Karwoski. The former chief deputy will succeed Bill Hutton, who will step down as sheriff April 30. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)

Washington County

The next sheriff of Washington County is on deck.

Chief Deputy Dan Starry was appointed to the position by a unanimous vote at the March 14 meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners. He still must be sworn in, which is expected to take place in May.

Starry will succeed Bill Hutton, who is stepping down in order to be the next executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association. Hutton's last day is April 30.

"I'm very excited to work with the citizens of Washington County, but also the great men and women that we have working here," Starry said in an interview. "I started my law enforcement career with Washington County. So to come up through the ranks is very exciting. Also, it's a family here."

Starry, 46, started with the department as a deputy in 1993. Hutton appointed him chief deputy in October 2010.

Hutton is an elected official and is leaving midterm. However, there is no state provision that dictates that a county must hold a special election, Washington County Administrator Molly O'Rourke told the board. There was also a precedent for appointing the next in line to the position, she said, citing figures from the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association.

"In 12 out of 13 sheriff's vacancies, county boards have appointed the county sheriff's second in command for the job," she told the board.

The transition should be a smooth one, said Starry, who was recommended to the post by Hutton.

"I think the transition has started to occur," he said. "I've been working side by side with Sheriff Hutton for the past seven years. I think the transition has started."

Before becoming chief deputy, Starry served as patrol deputy, crime prevention officer, field training officer, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer, narcotics officer, youth unit investigator, K-9 officer, sergeant and commander. He has a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's University and attended the FBI National Academy and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association program.

Hutton's term runs to Jan. 7, 2019, so Starry would have to run for the office in fall 2018 to continue.

Starry already is thinking about work he'll oversee.

"We're certainly going to continue to look at the opioid epidemic," Starry said. "It certainly is present here in Washington County. But we're also working with the county attorney to expand into the human trafficking area as well."

Another item on the agenda is an update of the records management system, he said.

"The main priority is to get that up and running," he said. "We are currently using a 1990s program for our records management."

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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