Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows said Monday that he will not seek re-election after his term ends at the end of the year.
Bellows, 58, said that after 35 years in law enforcement, including four years as the top cop of the state’s third-largest county, “there are other things I want to do.”
In a news release, the sheriff said that, “The citizens of Dakota County can take pride and comfort in knowing their county continues to be one of the safest places to live. Our crime rates remain very low for a metropolitan county … This has been accomplished by maintaining a cooperative spirit in working with our law enforcement partners across the county. The Dakota County Drug Task Force … is recognized as one of the best in Minnesota.”
Bellows said his goal has always been to look for way to save taxpayers’ money. The jail recently contracted for nursing services rather than using nurses employed by the county, for a cost savings of $160,000 per year. Jail food costs, at $1.20 per meal, are one of the lowest in the state.
The sheriff said he still loves his job and has several projects to oversee before his tenure comes to an end. The sheriff’s office is looking into a new communications system and a new health care software program.
Bellows, a native of St. Paul, worked for the Lakeville Police Department for 19 years before joining the sheriff’s office in 1999. He was commander of operations for a year before being appointed chief deputy under Sheriff Don Gudmundson in 2000.
When Gudmundson left office in February 2010, the County Board appointed Bellows to the job. He was elected that November after a contentious race with Apple Valley police Sgt. Mitch Scott.
Bellows said he will continue to teach at Metro State University and at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s leadership and command program after he steps down as sheriff.
He said he is encouraging his chief deputy, Tim Leslie, to run for sheriff in this fall’s election.
“I brought Tim in from the outside as appointed chief deputy,” Bellows said. “I think he has an interest in it … and I think he’ll make a decision here in the not too distant future.”
Leslie has worked in the St. Paul Police Department and as assistant commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.