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3 candidates running for Beltrami County Sheriff

Three candidates are running for Beltrami County Sheriff, following the retirement of Ernie Beitel.

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The Beltrami County Sheriff Office is located at 613 Minnesota Ave. NW in Bemidji.
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Following the announcement in February that Sheriff Ernie Beitel would not be seeking reelection in 2022, three candidates have come forward to vie for the office: Bidal Duran, Jason Riggs and Jarrett Walton.

Bidal Duran

Bidal Duran currently serves as a Hubbard County narcotics investigator and is a former Bemidji police officer. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and has been in law enforcement since 2013.

“I hold myself to a very high standard,” Duran said. “I’m very proactive as far as working with my community and working for my community.”

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Bidal Duran family photo
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Duran also holds a master’s degree in criminal justice leadership and is currently pursuing a doctorate in public management and criminal justice leadership.

“I have a fresh mindset, a fresh set of ideas,” Duran said, “when it comes to difficult situations a lot of people look to me to help.”

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Duran’s affinity for leadership and mentoring are part of the reason he’s chosen to run for Beltrami County Sheriff.

“We need someone to step up and be a strong backbone for our community, and I believe that I’m the right person for it,” Duran added.

One of Duran’s priorities is building a better relationship between the public and law enforcement.

“There’s always been that disconnect with the general public and law enforcement,” Duran explained. “I’m trying to bring back what law enforcement truly is, which is working in partnership with and protecting and serving our community.”

Duran believes that his experience working directly with the public makes him well suited to this task, as well as adapting to any changes that might come his way.

“I’m a person who has gotten to know and understand the community,” Duran said, “that’s something we need.”

Jason Riggs

Jason Riggs is a captain with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and has more than 21 years of law enforcement experience. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy and the Minnesota National Guard.

“First and foremost (I’d like) to serve my community and provide leadership to our deputies and assist them in becoming leaders of their community,” Riggs said.

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Jason Riggs

Riggs has held numerous leadership roles both within and outside of law enforcement. Beginning his career in the Deer River and Leech Lake Police Departments, Riggs became the chief of police in Blackduck from 2002 to 2004.

“I’ve seen leadership in law enforcement decline over the last 21 years,” Riggs said. “Leaders are needed in every aspect of society, and I think that a strong servant leader is needed in law enforcement.”

Riggs believes that a key part of reducing crime is providing services and building partnerships with the community.

“We can’t arrest our way out of issues,” Riggs explained. “We have to provide services and collaborate with community members.”

Another one of his priorities is building and improving partnerships with other government bodies, including tribal governments.

“We have to collaborate with other government entities, tribal governments, on problem-solving a much greater societal issue than what law enforcement can handle on its own,” he said.

Jarrett Walton

Jarrett Walton has over 25 years of law enforcement experience and has worked with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years.

Walton was promoted to his current position of Chief Deputy three years ago, and he now oversees each of the different divisions of the sheriff’s office, including the Beltrami County Jail.

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Jarrett Walton

“I started to supervise every division of the sheriff’s office,” Walton said. “I think it's important that you mentor and help develop a good culture within your office.”

He plans to make the jail one of his priorities if he’s elected sheriff. This includes working to improve staff retention and playing a part in deciding the future of the jail, which is currently undergoing a feasibility study.

This priority also extends to improving the services the jail offers to help people who are reentering the community, from housing assistance to addiction resources.

“The goal behind this is to talk to these individuals when they’re getting ready to go out so they have resources on the outside to support them,” Walton explained.

Services like these, Walton believes, can help address some of the root causes of crime and reduce the likelihood that someone will re-offend.

“Hopefully we can address the underlying issue that caused the problems and make it so they don’t come back to our facility,” Walton said.

His other priorities include reducing crime through proactive law enforcement and improving trust and connecting with the community.

“Law enforcement can’t do anything without support and interaction with the community,” Walton said. “We’re here to serve them, make sure that their needs are met.”

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICSELECTION 2022BELTRAMI COUNTY JAILBELTRAMI COUNTY
Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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