Former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher ended almost 40 years in law enforcement when he resigned from the St. Paul Police Department on Monday.
Fletcher, 58, said he plans to work with the Somali community, specifically with youth mentoring and parent coaching.
“I have a few good years left, so I’m going to try to use the energy I have to do some good,” he said Monday afternoon.
Fletcher has been serving as the commander of the crimes against property unit.
He returned to the police force in 2010 as a night watch commander after he was ousted from the Sheriff’s Office by Matt Bostrom after a bruising campaign.
Fletcher had been on a leave of absence from the Police Department since he was first elected sheriff in 1994, a position he held for 16 years.
Fletcher’s tenure wasn’t without its controversy.
He faced criticism over the dissolution of the Metro Gang Strike Force, for his role in home raids leading up to the 2008 Republic National Convention, and for the conviction of two of his confidantes and former employees, who pocketed $6,000 in planted money in an FBI integrity test.
He survived a challenge by popular former St. Paul Police Chief Bill Finney, eking out a win in 2006 by 1,133 votes out of more than 184,000 cast. He also survived a push to make the sheriff an appointed post rather than an elected one.
Fletcher is credited with pioneering outreach to the Hmong community, for playing a key role in developing the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center (which opened in 2003), for cracking down on violent crime and for guiding technological advances at the sheriff’s department.
His roots in east-metro public life included a stint on the St. Paul City Council in the early 1980s, along with failed legislative and mayoral campaigns that same decade.
He first joined the St. Paul police in 1977 and served as an investigator and commander before eventually becoming sheriff.
Previously, Fletcher had worked in the sex crimes, homicide and burglary units, and he was commander of the juvenile unit, among other positions.
“I never thought I would be ready for this day,” Fletcher said of stepping down.
Fletcher said that while he was inspired working alongside rookie officers, working with the first and second generations of Somali immigrants has become a passion.
In 2011, he started the Center for Somalia History Studies, which offers seminars to educate others about the Somali community. There have been 15 seminars in the past two years, Fletcher said. He wants to increase that to a dozen a year.
“I only know how to do things one way and that’s full speed,” he said.
He will be working with nonprofits such as Ka Joog, an organization focused on Somali youth, and the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, he said.
In the next five years, Fletcher said, he also wants to travel to Somalia.
“I’m completely ready.”