County board appoints Chief Deputy Dan Starry as county sheriff

Dan Starry
Dan Starry

Chief Deputy Dan Starry will replace Bill Hutton as the Washington County sheriff after Hutton steps down April 30.

Hutton is retiring in the middle of his third term, to be executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association. On March 14 the county board unanimously appointed Starry to finish Hutton’s term of office, which runs through Jan. 7, 2019.

Starry has worked for the county sheriff’s office since 1993 and became Hutton’s chief deputy in October 2010. He’s also served in a variety of positions, ranging from patrol officer to field training officer and from K9 officer to commander. The county says he has experience in financial administration, program development, crisis management and more.

As chief deputy, Starry not only acts as sheriff in Hutton’s absence, but also serves as the coordinator among the divisions in the sheriff’s office, and manages the office’s budget and community contracts.

Starry earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University and has attended the FBI National Academy and FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association program.

County Administrator Molly O’Rourke said the county board had an obligation to appoint an interim sheriff, because state law has no provision for a special election when a sheriff steps down. She also said the law offers little guidance for the process of appointing a successor. She said in 12 out of the last 13 sheriff vacancies in Minnesota, county boards have appointed the department’s second in command to finish the sheriff’s term. Washington County’s appointment of Starry brings that total to 13 out of 14 cases.

The last time a Washington County sheriff retired mid-term was in 2005, when James Frank stepped down, O’Rourke said. The county board at the time appointed then-Chief Deputy Steve Pott finished Frank’s term.

The county board considered Starry at Hutton’s recommendation, who said Starry “really understands what it takes to be a sheriff.”

“I do think that the sheriff is highly regarded, and I think his recommendation should carry significant meaning to this board,” Commissioner Lisa Weik said.

“I think Sheriff Hutton would be the first to say Dan Starry is part and parcel to the success of the department,” County Commissioner Gary Kriesel said.

“Looking at Starry’s credentials, he is very qualified to carry out the duties of sheriff here in Washington County,” Commissioner Fran Miron said. Miron also said he’s pleased with the direction the sheriff’s department is going and thinks Starry will continue the work well.

Starry thanked the board for the appointment.

“I look forward to this opportunity to serve the citizens of Washington County, but also the employees of the sheriff’s office,” he said. “Under Sheriff Hutton’s leadership we have implemented a lot of programs, especially with jail programs and community engagement programs. I do intend to continue that, but also to expand.”

Starry is expected to be sworn in, in early May.

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]

This story has been updated.