Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson will lose his salary for a month when his peace officer license is suspended later in November.
The County Board voted unanimously to take the step Tuesday after the administration said commissioners had the authority to revoke his pay during the suspension of his peace officer license, a requirement to hold the elected post.
"We won't have a sheriff for 30 days, so we won't pay him for 30 days," said board Chair Marion Greene.
The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training suspended Hutchinson's license for 30 days in September. The board's decision came 10 months after the first-term sheriff pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge after a single-vehicle crash that totaled a taxpayer-owned SUV.
Hutchinson didn't respond to a request for comment. His attorney, Mark Schneider, said he would have to call his client for permission to speak on the 30-day salary reduction. The position pays $185,775 a year.
Hutchinson, who took office as sheriff in 2019, disclosed earlier this year that he would not run for re-election. He has been on paid medical leave since May for undisclosed health reasons.
The County Board lacks the authority to take away an employee's salary if they are on vacation or absent due to sickness, said County Administrator David Hough.
Although the suspension of his peace officer license won't require the position to be filled during the month, it will preclude Hutchinson from performing his duties.
Since his leave, Chief Deputy Tracey Martin has been in charge of operations for the Sheriff's Office, which serves about 1.2 million residents.
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. At some point, he decided to drive home to Bloomington rather than stay in a local hotel. He drove into a ditch on Interstate 94, breaking a vertebra and several ribs.
At the time of the crash, he was travelling 126 miles per hour without a seat belt fastened and carrying a loaded gun. His blood alcohol content was more than 0.13%. The state legal limit to drive is 0.08%.
The sheriff initially told authorities he wasn't the driver, then pleaded guilty.
Hutchinson agreed to repay the county nearly $48,000 for damage to the taxpayer-owned SUV.
As part of his drunken-driving plea agreement, he was placed on probation for two years. He isn't allowed to drink alcohol during that time and must submit to random testing. After the crash, he said he went to an outpatient mental health and chemical dependency treatment program.
Community groups, county commissioners and Gov. Tim Walz called for his resignation, but he refused.
The County Board has no authority to remove a sheriff from office since he is elected by voters.
At Tuesday's board meeting, there was little discussion about taking away the sheriff's salary during his license suspension.
"We need to ensure he's not paid," said Commissioner Irene Fernando. "We need to use taxpayer dollars responsibly."