Elfo lands county sheriff job

Published on Thu, Dec 12, 2002
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Elfo lands county sheriff job

Blaine police chief Bill Elfo will take over as county sheriff in January when Dale Brandland moves on to the state Senate.

On December 10 county council voted 4-3 to appoint Elfo interim sheriff. Laurie Caskey-Schreiber, Seth Fleetwood, Dan McShane and Sharon Roy chose Elfo while Barbara Brenner, Sam Crawford and Ward Nelson favored chief civil deputy Ron Peterson.

“He came enthusiastically recommended with impressive academic credentials,” said county council member Seth Fleetwood. “He seemed to us a very safe choice.”

“This is the culmination of a more than 20-year career,” Elfo said. “I relish the opportunity to have the highest law enforcement position in the county and continuing to serve the citizens of Blaine.”

Elfo first became a police officer in 1974 and came to Blaine as chief in 1996. Last year he added to his credentials by completing law school and being admitted to the state bar. “I have been a supervisor or a commander of virtually every facet of law enforcement,” he said. “I have a passion for this work.”

At city hall city manager Gary Tomsic said he was sad to lose a valuable member of his team. “We hate to see him go but I don’t think we really are. He’s going to be a great sheriff,” Tomsic said. In a glowing recommendation to county council Tomsic said Elfo was the finest police chief or sheriff he had worked with in 30 years as a city administrator.

Elfo is appointed as interim sheriff and said he planned to run for the permanent post in the November 2003 election. While transition details are still being worked out, Tomsic said Elfo would be given a year’s leave of absence. Deputy chief Mike Haslip will take over as chief until the election decides if Elfo will return to his post here. “It gives Mike a year to see how he likes it,” Tomsic said. An interim deputy chief will be selected from the ranks and a new officer hired. “We’ll end up with the same amount of people on the street,” Tomsic said.

Elfo said he is poised to make some changes in the sheriff’s office, and the first will be how the top law enforcement officer dresses for work. “I’m going to wear a uniform,” he said, which will contrast with Brandland’s suits. “I don’t think you should try to separate yourself from people in your organization, you should try and fit in with them.” He also said that, as he had done in Blaine, he’ll be a “working chief,” taking patrol duties and responding to calls. “I think it’s important to be right there on the street, The best way to find out what’s going on is to be there and do it,” he said.

Elfo also said he would concentrate on improving county jail facilities, a constant source of frustration during his time as Blaine’s chief. “The jail’s going to be a big part of this job, a top priority,” he said.

Strong collaborative leadership is how Elfo hopes to reach his goals as county sheriff. “I’m going to provide leadership and a clear vision that we’ll develop with employees and citizens.”

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