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Aitkin County Sheriff will not seek re-election: Turner ready for the next chapter of his life

AITKIN--Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner announced Wednesday he will not seek another term as the Aitkin County sheriff. Turner, who succeeded former Sheriff Dennis Landborg, has been the sheriff in Aitkin County since May 2005. He was appointe...

Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner announced to the voters of the county this week that he is not seeking another term as sheriff. He was appointed to the position to fill in the term of Dennis Landborg in 2005 and will serve until the end of this year. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video
Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner announced to the voters of the county this week that he is not seeking another term as sheriff. He was appointed to the position to fill in the term of Dennis Landborg in 2005 and will serve until the end of this year. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video

AITKIN-Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner announced Wednesday he will not seek another term as the Aitkin County sheriff.

Turner, who succeeded former Sheriff Dennis Landborg, has been the sheriff in Aitkin County since May 2005. He was appointed by the county board to fill a remaining term and then elected to the position in 2006. Prior to serving as sheriff, Turner was a deputy sheriff, sergeant and undersheriff with the Aitkin County Sheriff's Department beginning in 1995.

His term expires at the end of 2018.

"It was bittersweet," Turner said Thursday of his decision to retire as sheriff. "I thought really hard about doing another term as I really enjoy the job. I enjoy the job now as much as I did when I started. But it came down to if I want to announce again it would be another five-year commitment, if you do a year ahead of time. So I decided it's time for a new chapter of my life as I didn't want to commit another five years.

"I have a lot of interests in hobbies, life. My family, as I have sacrificed a lot along the way. ... It was a difficult decision, but looking forward to being there for them. ... It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Aitkin County as their sheriff for the last 13 years."

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Turner said in April he will begin his 32nd year in law enforcement, with his last 23 years being in Aitkin County, a place he calls home. Turner, 53, born to Evelyn and the late Larry Turner, grew up in McGregor and is a 1982 McGregor High School graduate.

"My parents were my biggest supporters when I ran for sheriff," Turner said. "My dad is the biggest reason why I am sitting here. I consider myself fortunate to be here for so many years."

Turner began his public safety career as a dispatcher with the National Park Service in Yellowstone in 1986. He also has worked for police departments in southwestern Minnesota and, for a number of years, with the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Department.

Turner also serves as the emergency management director for Aitkin County and is a certified emergency manager. He also is a firefighter with the McGregor Fire Department and was a first responder with the Palisade Area First Responders. Turner has an associate degree in law enforcement from Alexandria Technical College and a bachelor's degree from Southwest State University in Marshall.

When asked about his biggest accomplishments as sheriff, Turner said he has always tried to give it his all each and every day at work. He said he always wanted the people of Aitkin County to feel "highly served."

"I enjoy people and that is why I enjoy this job so much," Turner said. "Over the span of my time in law enforcement I have been privileged to work alongside some of the most gifted and dedicated people. For a person who truly enjoys people, there could not have been a better job than being sheriff. And I cannot imagine a better place to be sheriff than right here in Aitkin County."

Turner said the successes over his years as sheriff are not his successes. Rather, it is a success of the sheriff's office organization. He said everyone has worked as a team-in the sheriff's office, jail and dispatch center-to serve the people of the county.

The biggest change Turner has seen in his career is technology.

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"There wasn't even a fax machine or computer in the office when I started," Turner said. "We didn't have any computers in the car and now with a new dispatch system we can see where all the cars are in the county."

Turner said being in a law enforcement career he has had the pleasure of meeting people of all spectrums of life, from those who have struggled all their lives to ones who have lived an enriched life.

"Law enforcement is on the forefront of society and we work to help people get through their worst experience," Turner said. "Never once in my lifetime have we ever had a 911 call from someone for having fun."

Turner said the most difficult part of his job is when he has to give a parent a notice on the death of their child. No parent should have to bury their child, Turner said. Deputies and officers also have seen so many children emotionally or physically hurt on a variety of different calls and they hear some of the most tragic stories. Turner said these stories hurt everyone, including authorities.

"It's best to leave some of these stories back in the memory bank," Turner said. "We don't want to revisit them."

The death of Aitkin County Sheriff's Investigator Steven Martin Sandberg on Oct. 18, 2015, in the line of duty was the most difficult time in Turner's career. Sandberg, who was with the Aitkin County Sheriff's Office for 24 years, was shot and killed by an inmate receiving treatment at St. Cloud Hospital.

The death of Sandberg impacted the entire sheriff's organization and the community. Turner said Sandberg will always be remembered, honored and not forgotten. He said if he had to find one silver lining of Sandberg's death, it would be that it made the people of the organization closer and brought the organization and the community closer.

"We are very community orientated," Turner said.

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Outside of the sheriff's office, Turner is a member of the McGregor Lions, Tamarack Sportsman's Club, Minnesota Sheriff's Association, National Sheriff's Association and the Association of Minnesota Emergency Managers.

Turner and his wife Judy reside in Fleming Township, in between Aitkin and McGregor, and they have two grown children.

Turner said has has heard from people who may run for sheriff to replace him, but said he will allow those potential candidates make their own announcement to the public. Turner said whoever is elected into office, he is hoping for a smooth transition and that everything goes well without a hitch.

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