ROCHESTER - Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik announced Wednesday he is temporarily stepping away from his duties for medical reasons, as Mower County commenced a workplace investigation into a concern raised earlier this month.

"I need to step away to handle a variety of medical issues," Sandvik said in a post on his re-election campaign's Facebook page. He was elected in November to a second term.

"Please understand, these types of medical decisions are personal," Sandvik wrote. "During my brief absence, I ask for privacy needed so I can get back soon."

Mower County Administrator Trish Harren said in an email that the county learned of concerns over Sandvik's conduct on Nov. 16. The county has since retained outside counsel to investigate the issue.

"The sheriff is an elected official," Harren said. "He is not an employee of the county and does not report to me or to the [Mower County] Board. He is not subject to employment policies."

Harren noted Sandvik doesn't have specific work hours and is not on a formal leave but rather is "choosing to reduce his work commitment from 24/7 so that he can address his own health and well-being."

Sandvik did not return repeated calls for comment.

Harren, in an interview with the Austin Daily Herald, said the incident in question revolved around an unnamed subject who reported on Nov. 16, that Sandvik was acting out of character and it was believed he was intoxicated

"That concern was not verified with a blood test or PBT," Harren told the Daily Herald. "In the absence of the sheriff admitting to that allegation, it remains an allegation."

Sandvik began his career in law enforcement in 1997 at the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office and went to work for Mower County in 2001.

He was first elected in 2018 to replace Terese Amazi, who retired after serving as sheriff for 16 years.