Ramsey County Sheriff-elect Bob Fletcher appointed veteran deputy Chy Nou Lee to a lead role in his administration in a move that he said will make him the highest ranking Hmong-American officer in the state.

Lee was promoted Friday to the department's inspector for youth crime prevention programs.

Lee began working at the Sheriff's Office in 2001. He has worked as a community service officer and a deputy sheriff.

"A big part of public safety is community building," Lee said in a statement provided by Fletcher's office. "I am looking forward to helping others and to providing opportunities."

Fletcher won election to the sheriff's post in November and will take office in January. Lee's new position starts the same month.

Lee's role will involve restoring youth crime prevention programs and creating new outreach efforts aimed at at-risk youth. His previous work at the Sheriff's Office included coordinating literacy programs, creating programs for youth in public housing, working in the county jail and working in court security. He is currently an electronic crimes investigator and serves as a Hmong interpreter.

Fletcher's news release said Lee is the first Hmong-American inspector in the Sheriff's Office, and the first on a senior law enforcement leadership team in Minnesota.

"There is no substitute for real life experience," Fletcher said. "Chy Nou understands what it takes to help kids succeed. I am very proud to have him on our team."

According to Fletcher's news release, Lee grew up in St. Paul's public housing developments as one of eight children born to immigrants fleeing the aftermath of the Vietnam War.