Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson, who has been out on medical leave since May, will lose his peace officer license for 30 days because of his drunken-driving crash last December.
Hutchinson signed an agreement with the Minnesota Board of Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) on Sept. 6. It's rare for the board to suspend a license for a first offense, but Hutchinson agreed that he should he held to a higher standard, according to a statement by the board Tuesday.
The board, which licenses officers in Minnesota, approved the suspension at a meeting Sept. 22. The board's cited reason was Hutchinson's drunken-driving arrest late last year. The suspension, which begins in late November, is the latest in a long list of troubles for Hutchinson. He cannot serve as sheriff during the suspension.
What's not yet clear is whether Hutchinson will be paid during that month. County spokeswoman Carolyn Marinan didn't know if Hutchinson would be paid and who would make that determination.
In the early hours of Dec. 8, 2021, Hutchinson crashed the county's 2021 Ford Explorer after drinking at the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association conference in Alexandria and deciding to drive home to Bloomington.
The sheriff initially told state troopers he wasn't the driver, but he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken-driving offense. At the time of the crash, he was driving faster than 126 mph with a blood-alcohol level of 0.13%, well above the legal limit of 0.08%.
He has been on paid medical leave since May and isn't seeking re-election to the office he's held since 2019. He continues to receive benefits and collect a $186,000 salary. His biweekly paycheck has a $250 garnishment to repay the county for the $48,000 Explorer he totaled.
Hennepin County also has launched an investigation into two hostile workplace complaints against Hutchinson. The investigation began in April but didn't become public until months later. Marinan confirmed Tuesday that the complaints are still pending.
The Star Tribune has submitted multiple data practices requests for texts, emails and reports related to the investigation, but county officials have yet to provide them.
In the latest discipline, the POST board said it "considered many factors" including Hutchinson's behavior.
Hutchinson's lawyer, Mark Schneider of Law Enforcement Labor Services, said in an email that he is unavailable until Monday.
The stipulation agreement with the POST board noted that Hutchinson first received his peace officer license in 2005 and worked for the Bayport Police Department. Two years later, he joined the Metro Transit Police Department. He was elected sheriff in 2018.
Chief Deputy Tracey Martin has been running the office since Hutchinson left, and that will not change, spokesman Jeremy Zoss said.