New Sheriff building community ties

New Dunn County Sheriff Gary Kuhn sits with a student during lunch at Halliday School on a recent visit. – Submitted photo

Sheriff Gary Kuhn is busy trying to build a connection between all the communities in Dunn County and his department.

That was one of his campaign promises in 2018.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

He’s starting off with something simple – lunch.

Kuhn kicked off his new outreach to the county communities with visits to the local schools.

“It has been a really great experience,” the new sheriff said about his assuming command of the department in January.

“I am really happy and the community has been really supportive,” he said Monday in an interview. “All of the people we work with have been supportive. It has been really nice.

A big part of his plan for the department was to rebuild community ties throughout the county and the first step has been a lunch program where he and his deputies visit local schools.

“We have gone to Killdeer, Halliday, and last Friday we went up to Twin Buttes,” he said.

“We spent the lunch hour with the kids up there.

“We plan on doing that on a regular rotating basis, trying to do at least one school a week. You know, get all three of them every month.”

So far, it has been going very well, the sheriff said.

“It is really great to be around and it is a good opportunity for them (the students) to get some positive exposure to law enforcement.”

Twin Buttes was the latest the department visited and completed his first cycle of the local schools.

“There was a little ice on the road and they had a little more snow then we have had in the Manning area, but they (road crews) had everything cleaned up pretty nice.

“We went up there and spent almost three hours up therewith the kids. We had lunch with then and then we stopped in some of their classrooms as well,” he explained.

“It went really well.”

The sheriffs department has had deputies go up to the different schools before, Kuhn said. “But this is kind of a new thing that we are trying. It is just a chance for the kids to see us in a positive role where we are giving them advice and service lunch to them. It gives us a chance to sit down and talk to them during lunchtime and eat with them. It is a new program that we are trying to implement … and gives us the opportunity to be around the kids more… and the teachers as well,” he said.

“Right now, we are just trying to get the kids used to us and having us around,” the sheriff explained.

“We will start coming into the classrooms later down the road,” he added.

In addition, the department is looking to expand their focus to include more community groups and events in the county.

“We are definitely looking at getting involved in a lot more of the community events,” he said. “We have had a little input on the fair, and we are going to try to do some different stuff there this year with the community.

“I am a member of the Saddle Club, but I haven’t been at the last few meetings. I missed them due to other previous engagements.

“But, we are definitely trying to reach out to the public,” the sheriff said. “We want to be more visible to the community. We have gone to several of the activities … the bull sales, the stuff over at the community center in Killdeer.

“We are just trying to be more visible to the public. So, we’ll be doing a lot more of that throughout the year,” he added.

When it comes to the annual Dunn County fair, the department has already been involved in discussions with the Killdeer Police Department about maintaining a presence on the fairgrounds.

“We have already talked with Chief Braaten and agreed that it is important that the community see us together and out working together,” he said.

“It will give the community and opportunity to get to know us,” the sheriff added.

The department is working hard to increase their coverage throughout the county, he added.

“It is a big county. We have been working hard to get out to as many areas as possible.  My new chief deputy, Mike Brost, and I have been making a concerted effort to hit different areas, get to know some of the locals. We have tried to hit some of the ‘coffee groups’  and sit down and talk to as many groups as possible.

“It is not always as much as we’d want to because there are other commitments and we are trying to get everything handled within the department.

“We have definitely been out and about and trying to explore as much of the county as possible.”

The department has been to several communities more than once already, the sheriff said.

“We already have been to the school in Halliday and some of the businesses (in Halliday) we have stopped in and talked to a few of them.

“The Coffee Club in Dodge, both Mike and I have stopped in and visited with them,” he added.

“We are slowly making the rounds of the small towns. We have talked to some of the community members there.

“Hopefully, once we get things streamlined a bit more, I’ll try to make that weekly… go to ‘Coffee with a Cop’ , or something like that down the road.

“We’d like to extend that out to all the first responders … to have the opportunity to meet with the paramedics, the fire department and other people as well,” he explained.

“It shouldn’t be just us. I would like to see all of us (first responders and law enforcement) get together and let the community have access to us.

“That is one of our goals.”

Among the places in the county that the sheriff may make an appearance is along the northern border near Mandaree.

“Mandaree is actually in McKenzie County. Dunn County borders it. We do plan on going up there and meeting with all of the council members up there and the chief over in New Town with the Three Affiliated Tribes.

“We are slowly trying to set up things with all of the surrounding areas and all of the surrounding sheriffs and chiefs so we can kind of get a solid working relationship put together.

“I have met will all of the sheriffs from the southwest part of the state already. We are working on networking and creating a better relationship and trying to work alongside each other to keep the lines of communication open.

“It is going really well as far as that goes,” the sheriff said.

Kuhn said that he is looking at the Memorandum of Understandings the department has now that he has taken over the reins.

“They may need to be redone by me, so things like the SWAT teams and the other agencies, we are still working on getting together on that.

“We are members of the Tactical Team here and four of our deputies are involved with that program now.

“We are looking at trying to get everything updated as we go along,” he said.

The sheriff admits he still has a lot of work to do.

“It is difficult, as big as the county is. I still haven’t gone to all of the city commission meetings. I am still trying to knock those down one at a time as they come up.

“We are looking at some of the city contracts and city ordinances to figure out how we are handle those things in the future.

“We have a lot of work to do with the small towns and the contracts that we have with them. That will take some time to get that ironed out,” he said.

Kuhn said the states attorneys office will be helping with those contracts. “So, it is going to take a while, but we are looking at all those different areas and see what we can do to improve our relations and improve our service to those small towns and rural communities.

“We have contracts with Halliday, Dunn Center and Dodge right now. It is just a matter of figuring out what services they want and need,” he said.

The department has 14 deputies at the present time, and that number will soon be increasing. “That includes the patrol and detectives.,” he said.

“We are in the process of hiring two deputies right now. We were short coming into the new year, so we promoted two new sergeants and two new corporals. Those are all intra-department promotions.

“We will probably be asking for a narcotics investigator. We have joined with the Southwest Narcotics Task Force and we are hoping to get a position for that,” he said.

There may soon be truck rig spots opening in the near future, he added.

“We’ll be gearing up our truck rig a little bit to save some of the county roads out there,” he explained.

“It will be for enforcing the county load restrictions. The county roads that the county maintains would be the ones that we would be patrolling.”

New vehicles

The department will also get getting six new custom Chevy Tahoes. “We had some vehicles that were due to be retired. We will be getting those (Tahoes) in a couple of months. They are on back order right now,” he said.

“As soon as they come in they will get them outfitted. Hopefully, we will get them by March or April. Chevy makes a Tahoe police package and that is what they will be, wired for police harnesses and all that from the factory. They will go down and get the lights, sirens and electronics put into them. Then, the graphics, the radios and all that. They will be regular marked patrol cars.

Biggest Challenge

According to Kuhn, the big challenge for him and his department for the near future will be adapting to a larger department. “We just promoted four people and our biggest challenge is getting those new shifts set up and getting it restructured to more of that community-oriented police mindset.

“We’ll need to get out and interact with the public a little more.

“The biggest challenge is to change the mindset from how we have doing business in the past  and try to move in a new direction that is a little more community-oriented.

“I think the deputies have been doing an outstanding job and they have been doing a great job with the communities.

“We have got a good team. They go out and they work hard and I am excited to work with them and be part of this.”

“We are definitely looking at getting involved in a lot more of the community events,” he said. “We have had a little input on the fair, and we are going to try to do some different stuff there this year with the community.

“I am a member of the Saddle Club, but I haven’t been at the last few meetings. I missed them due to other previous engagements.

“But, we are definitely trying to reach out to the public,” the sheriff said. “We want to be more visible to the community. We have gone to several of the activities … the bull sales, the stuff over at the community center in Killdeer.

“We are just tring to be more visible to the public. So, we’ll be doing a lot more of that throughout the year,” he added.

When it comes to the annual Dunn County fair, the department has already been involved in discussions with the Killdeer Police Department about maintaining a presence on the fairgounds.

“We have already talked with Chief Braaten and agreed that it is important that the community see us together and out working together,” he said.

“It will give the community and opportunity to get to know us,” the sheriff added.

The department is working hard to increase their coverage throughout the county, he added.

“It is a big county. We have been working hard to get out to as many areas as possible.  My new chief deputy, Mike Brost, and I have been making a concerted effort to hit different areas, get to know some of the locals. We have tried to hit some of the ‘coffee groups’  and sit down and talk to as many groups as possible.

“It is not always as much as we’d want to because there are other committments and we are trying to get everything handled within the department.

“We have definitiely been out and about and trying to explore as much of the county as possible.”

The department has been to several communities more than once already, the sheriff said.

“We already have been to the school in Halliday and some of the businesses (in Halliday) we have stopped in and talked to a few of them.

“The Coffee Club in Dodge, both Mike and I have stopped in and visited with them,” he added.

“We are slowly making the rounds of the small towns. We have talked to some of the community members there.

“Hopefully, once we get things streamlined a bit more, I’ll try to make that weekly… go to ‘Coffee with a Cop’ , or something like that down the road.

“We’d like to extend that out to all the first responders … to have the opportunity to meet with the paramedics, the fire department and other people as well,” he explained.

“It shouldn’t be just us. I would like to see all of us (first responders and law enforcement) get together and let the community have access to us.

“That is one of our goals.”

Among the places in the county that the sheriff may make an appearance is along the northern border near Mandaree.

“Mandaree is actually in McKenzie County. Dunn County borders it. We do plan on going up there and meeting with all of the council members up there and the chief over in New Town with the Three Affiliated Tribes.

“We are slowly trying to set up things with all of the surrounding areas and all of the surrounding sheriffs and chiefs so we can kind of get a solid working relationship put together.

“I have met will all of the sheriffs from the southwest part of the state already. We are working on networking and creating a better relationship and trying to work alongside each other to keep the lines of communication open.

“It is going really well as far as that goes,” the sheriff said.

Kuhn said that he is looking at the Memorandum of Understandings the department has now that he has taken over the reins.

“They may need to be redone by me, so things like the SWAT teams and the other agencies, we are still working on getting together on that.

“We are members of theTactical Team here and four of our deputies are involved with that program now.

“We are looking at trying to get everything updated as we go along,” he said.

The sheriff admits he still has a lot of work to do.

“It is difficult, as big as the county is. I still haven’t gone to all of the city commission meetings. I am still trying to knock those down one at a time as they come up.

“We are looking at some of the city contracts and city ordinances to figure out how we are handle those things in the future.

“We have a lot of work to do with the small towns and the contracts that we have with them. That will take some time to get that ironed out,” he said.

Kuhn said the states attorneys office will be helping with those contracts. “So, it is going to take a while, but we are looking at all those different areas and see what we can do to improve our relations and improve our service to those small towns and rural communities.

“We have contracts with Halliday, Dunn Center and Dodge right now. It is just a matter of figuring out what services they want and need,” he said.

The department has 14 deputies at the present time, and that number will soon be increasing. “That includes the patrol and detectives.,” he said.

“We are in the process of hiring two deputies right now. We were short coming into the new year, so we promoted two new sergeants and two new corporals. Those are all intra-department promotions.

“We will probably be asking for a narcotics investigator. We have joined with the Southwest Narcotics Task Force and we are hoping to get a position for that,” he said.

There may soon be truck rig spots opening in the near future, he added.

“We’ll be gearing up our truck rig a little bit to save some of the county roads out there,” he explained.

“It will be for enforcing the county load restrictions. The county roads that the county maintains would be the ones that we would be patrolling.”

New vehicles

The department will also get getting six new custom Chevy Tahoes. “We had some vehicles that were due to be retired. We will be getting those (Tahoes) in a couple of months. They are on back order right now,” he said.

“As soon as they come in they will get them outfitted. Hopefully, we will get them by March or April. Chevy makes a Tahoe police package and that is what they will be, wired for police harnesses and all that from the factory. They will go down and get the lights, sirens and electronics put into them. Then, the graphics, the radios and all that. They will be regular marked patrol cars.

Biggest Challenge

According to Kuhn, the big challenge for him and his department for the near future will be adapting to a larger department. “We just promoted four people and our biggest challenge is getting those new shifts set up and getting it restructured to more of that community-oriented police mindset.

“We’ll need to get out and interact with the public a little more.

“The biggest challenge is to change the mindsetfrom how we have doing business in the past  and try to move in a new direction that is a little more community-oriented.

“I think the deputies have been doing an outstanding job and they have been doing a great job with the communities.

“We have got a good team. They go out and they work hard and I am excited to work with them and be part of this.”


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