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A day in the life of a sheriff's deputy

The life of a Crow Wing County sheriff's deputy is different every day. No two days are the same, which is the way most deputies like it. There are 43 sworn full-time deputies in the county and four part-time deputies who work in the Crow Wing Co...

Crow Wing County deputy Kris Brose checks on a suspect's driver's license to see if he has any warrants and to check his criminal background while at an incident Aug. 16 at Brainerd International Raceway. Jennifer Stockinger
Crow Wing County deputy Kris Brose checks on a suspect's driver's license to see if he has any warrants and to check his criminal background while at an incident Aug. 16 at Brainerd International Raceway. Jennifer Stockinger

The life of a Crow Wing County sheriff's deputy is different every day.

No two days are the same, which is the way most deputies like it.

There are 43 sworn full-time deputies in the county and four part-time deputies who work in the Crow Wing County Judicial Center. Deputies provide law enforcement services to a population of nearly 62,500 residents and even more during the summer tourism season. Deputies have 999 square miles to cover, which includes about 92,000 acres of water.

Jennifer Stockinger, staff writer for the Brainerd Dispatch, spent 12 hours on two deputy shifts to get an idea of what their job is like. Sgt. D.J. Downie, who has been with Crow Wing County for 21 years, was shadowed from 6-8:30 p.m. on Aug. 15. Kris Brose, who has been a deputy for almost two years, was shadowed from 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 to 6 a.m. on Aug. 16.

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The overnight shift was not a typical shift, since it was during the National Hot Rod Association races at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR). The sheriff's office doesn't provide the main law enforcement inside the BIR gates, but is called to go inside the gates when there are more serious criminal issues.

The summer months are when deputies are the busiest because of tourism in the lakes area.

The sheriff's office typical shifts include four deputies and one supervisor during the day and five deputies and a supervisor at night. The shifts - all 10 hours long covering the county 24/7 - are staggered with deputies starting their shifts at various times. Downie said the busiest time is from 2 p.m. to midnight. Night shifts begin at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Deputies are not assigned to cover certain areas in the county. They have the freedom to go where ever they want. However, the sheriff's office has areas that need extra patrol as requested by a citizen or business or are high crime areas.

The sheriff's office also serves civil papers.

Downie said the "Hot Spots" in the county that see a high number of calls to the sheriff's department include the areas around the cities of Brainerd, Baxter, Nisswa, Emily and Garrison. Downie said Ironton contracts with Deerwood police for law enforcement services for a contracted amount of hours, but the county assists Crosby, Ironton and Deerwood on calls.

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Gail Lake Township is one area in the county that does not generate a lot of calls.

Downie, who's a 1990 Brainerd High School graduate and was a Police Explorer in the Twin Cities area and Crow Wing County, began his law enforcement career in 1992 as a police officer in Baxter and Breezy Point. After a year he was hired as a deputy with the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office. He worked several positions with the county, including being an investigator for many years. He currently is a sergeant.

Downie has seen several changes over the years in law enforcement.

"In my career, I have seen a huge change in the bar rush," said Downie. "You could always count on having a DWI (driving while intoxicated) arrest. That is not the case anymore. There are more shuttles or taxis and with DWIs being so expensive, people don't want to risk it. The number of bar fights also is down.

"We have seen an increase in dog bites, out of control and social service type calls."

A majority of the calls involve domestics, disturbances, property damage crashes, suicides and attempted suicides, drugs and welfare checks.

Downie said deputies today can do so much more now with technology, since each squad is equipped with computers, a GPS and other necessary technology, such as video surveillance, radar speed gun and cellphones.

"With the GPS system we always know where everyone is at all times," said Downie.

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Being aware of where the deputies are is helpful in knowing which one is closest to respond to a call. Once a call comes in, the deputy can see the time, location and short description of the call on their computer screen. If the deputy is not on a call and is close to the area, all they have to do is press a button to let others know they plan to respond. Depending on the nature of the call, more than one deputy may respond.

Downie said the video surveillance is important today for the sheriff's office ongoing calls. Downie said for instance, in DWI cases, it gives the sheriff's office more credibility in the court system.

"Before you would stop a driver who was drunk and all you had to do was testify against them in court," said Downie. "Now the prosecutor typically won't charge it out if you didn't record the footage of the arrest."

The data on the computers also is helpful as the deputies can look up to see if the person is on probation and what the conditions of their release are. They also can check if the person has a warrant out for their arrest.

Brose, who went to college for natural resources, spent eight years working for a parks and recreation department in Colorado. However, in his heart, he was more passionate about working for a boat and water division in a sheriff's office.

"At the age of 30, I went back to CLC (Central Lakes College) to pursue a career in law enforcement," Brose said. "I enjoy the camaraderie and the calls get your adrenaline going.

"I like that each day there is something different going on. You could serve papers all day long or do traffic stops, you never know."

The type of calls Brose enjoys are the property damage calls. Brose said he likes to use his skills and try to solve the mystery of who damaged the property.

"I like the hunt," he said.

Brose said he would like to be an investigator for the sheriff's office one day, as well as work with the boat and water division.

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Below is a detailed list of the calls:

Sgt. D.J. Downie (who was followed from 5-8 p.m.)

• 6 p.m.: Downie was at the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) on the telephone talking with a deputy about an incident at BIR. When he got off phone, he handed a reporter the paperwork for her to go on a ride-along with the sheriff's office. He also explained the rules of the ride along and talked about safety measures. Downie also went over the equipment in his squad, including the video cameras and his firearms.

• 6:32 p.m.: Drove to BIR for a medical call of someone breaking their ankle when they were in an off-road vehicle.

When the medical was done, Downie communicated with other deputies at BIR relating to another incident that occurred earlier involving a crash of a golf cart that sent a victim to the Brainerd hospital. The suspect had left the scene and deputies were unable to locate him. Downie and the deputies again did another search with no success.

Downie then told the deputies he was going to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd to check on the victim. Downie went into the emergency room to check on the victim and interviewed him on what happened.

Downie then went back out in the county on patrol.

• 7:55 p.m.: A woman flagged Downie down and he stopped for a motorist assist on Wise Road. Her vehicle broke down and she was requesting a tow. Downie assisted the woman in calling the tow company.

While on scene, Brose clocked in at 7:56 p.m. and drove to the scene of the motorist assist to pick up the reporter.

Kris Brose (who was followed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.)

• 8 p.m.: Brose drove to the LEC to pick up a few civil papers, which includes child custody or summons papers to serve. It is still light out when Brose drove to the first home to serve papers. It was at a home where he has tried to serve papers before, but the person still was not home.

• 8:42 p.m.: Brose decides to patrol Crow Wing County Road 25. He uses his radar speed gun and almost right off the bat he clocks a vehicle traveling 65 in a 55 mph zone. Brose safely does a U-turn with his squad car and speeds up to catch the speeder. When near the vehicle he turns his lights on. The vehicle pulls over right away. Brose approaches the vehicle and asks the subject if he knows why he was stopped and he asks for his driver's license and insurance card. Brose walks back to his squad and looks up the subject's background, to see if he has any warrants for his arrest or how many speeding tickets the person has. The subject doesn't have any and Brose gives the man a verbal warning.

• 8:57 p.m.: Brose then heads out on Highway 18 to do a security check on Highway 18 Collision. He checks the doors and looks around the property and finds everything is secure.

• 9:06 p.m.: It's close to being dark out and Brose heads back out on Highway 18 and clocks another speeder with his radar. This time the driver is traveling 68 mph in a 55 mph zone. He pulls the driver over again safely. Again, the driver had a good record, had his seatbelt on, so Brose gave him a warning.

"A lot of people speed on Highway 18," said Brose. "People are driving 65 mph or more all the time. When I patrol the highway for speeders, I do it more as an educational thing. I talk with drivers about the dangers of speeding, the importance of seatbelts and how they can stay safe on the roads.

• 9:29 p.m.: Brose decides he wants to try to serve papers to another address before it is too late, where people will be going to sleep.

"I don't like to serve papers after 10 p.m.," he said. "Sometimes it's tough when your shift starts late, but I try to respect people's time and not come when it is too late."

This time Brose is successful and the Brainerd woman was home. The woman was given eviction notice papers.

• 9:59 p.m.: Brose is called out to BIR for a security check. Brose works with BIR security on an incident and clears at 10:27 p.m. Brose exits BIR and heads north on Highway 371, thinking about checking things out in the north part of the county.

• 10:30 p.m.: The deputy didn't get far, a few miles up the road, when he stops to help a Brainerd police officer, who is working a DWI enforcement patrol, with a motorist assist. While helping the officer out, Brose gets called back to BIR.

• 10:39 p.m.: A theft of a golf cart was reported at BIR. The man who reported his golf cart stolen began yelling and swearing at BIR security and Brose. He later apologized for swearing. The golf cart and the suspect are present. Brose interviews both subjects and the man is cited for felony theft and damage to property. Brose clears the incident at 11:40 p.m.

Brose asks another deputy, Pat Pickar, who was on scene if he wants to take a coffee break. They chose a destination and are ready to go, but another call is dispatched.

• 11:44 p.m.: A fight at BIR. Brose and Pickar respond to the call. The male subject is not cooperating and is yelling at deputies. The man soon calms down and is handcuffed. Pickar, who was the primary deputy on the incident, takes the man in custody. He was cited for disorderly conduct.

• 12:15 a.m.: Another call is dispatched out at BIR, a personal injury crash. Brose takes off in his squad to locate the crash. Brose is unable to speed to get to his destination faster as there are people walking around and driving around in their homemade all-terrain vehicles (ATV) all over at BIR.

Brose arrives at the scene and made sure his video camera was recording. Brose, other deputies, North Memorial Ambulance and BIR security are on scene. Brose investigates and learns an intoxicated Elk River man drove his ATV into a truck, where a few people were standing. No one was injured, besides the Elk River man. The man was carrying a passenger on the ATV when it jumped a road approach and crashed. Paramedics treat the man on scene and then transported him to the Brainerd hospital.

Brose leaves the scene to go to the emergency room to check on the male subject. Hospital staff tell Brose the man was just discharged and he finds him in the lobby area. Brose escorts the man outside and conducts a field sobriety test on him. The man refused to do one of the tests, telling Brose he couldn't do it because he was drinking. The man failed the test. Brose informs the man his blood alcohol content was 0.167 and arrests him for DWI.

The man is put in the cage of the squad car and Brose heads to the county jail, where the man is booked. Brose works on the paperwork for the booking and reads the man his Miranda rights. Brose leaves the jail at 2:53 a.m.

• 2:55 a.m.: Take a 30-minute coffee break at Holiday Superstation Store in Brainerd.

• 4:05 a.m.: Brose stops to help two men along side Business Highway 371. Their vehicle had broke down and they were trying to get to BIR. At first, Brose thought he may take the men to BIR, but they were able to call a tow truck for their vehicle and then a cab to get to BIR. Brose left the scene at 4:38 a.m.

• 4:39 a.m.: The deputy patrols a neighborhood on Estate Circle in rural Brainerd, an area that has seen a few police reports. The neighborhood is quiet and the deputy moves along.

• 5:13 a.m.: Brose heads back to BIR and a security guard flags him down about two suspicious men who tried to get into BIR, but they didn't have tickets.

Brose finds the men nearby and they are the same men he helped earlier when their vehicle broke down on Business Highway 371. One of the men had blood on his shirt. Both men say they were fine. They called their family in South Dakota. Family members were going to pick them up. Brose told them that they had to find a better spot to wait.

• 5:36 a.m.: The deputy drives to the LEC to complete paperwork, until his shift was complete.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl .

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