Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik has announced that he will be stepping away from his everyday duties as Sheriff of the county for a brief time to handle a variety of medical issues, and the county is also investigating a concern recently raised regarding Sheriff Sandvik’s conduct.
Mower County Administrator Trish Harren stated in a news release that her office was notified on Thursday, November 17th about a concern regarding the conduct of Sheriff Sandvik that had occurred the previous day. On Friday, November 18th, Harren stated that the county retained outside counsel to follow up on the report and to provide legal advice to the county.
Harren went on to state in the release that Sheriff Sandvik is an elected official and not subject to employment policies. As an elected official, Harren stated that he takes an oath to uphold the constitution and to abide by the law. She went on to state that Sheriff Sandvik answers to the voters every four years at election time. Sandvik was re-elected on November 8th, and he will start his second term in office as Sheriff of Mower County in January.
Harren stated that elected officials do not have regularly scheduled work hours, accrue time off or sick leave. She went on to state that they are not eligible for family and medical leave or other protected leaves. Decisions related to time away from work, Harren stated in the release, are made independently by the elected official.
Harren stated that Sheriff Sandvik has advised her office that he is choosing to reduce work commitments to address a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA protected medical issue. She noted in the news release that Sandvik continues to have communication with Sheriff’s Office leadership and remains apprised of operations. Harren noted that Sheriff Sandvik is in communication with the Mower County Board of Commissioners and her office, and she added that there are no criminal or civil charges pending against Sandvik, nor are there any anticipated.
Sheriff Sandvik released a statement concerning the situation…
“As the elected sheriff, I serve the citizens of Mower County. I take this responsibility seriously. In order to continue serving the resisdents with the expectations I put on myself, I need to step away to handle a variety of medical issues. Please understand, these types of medical decisions are personal. During my brief absence, I ask for privacy needed so I can get back soon. The team we have assembled at the Mower County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide uninterrupted services during my absence.”