RAMSEY COUNTY, Minn. – A war of words between the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff Bob Fletcher boiled over Friday as the board accused the sheriff of an “act of racism.”
The dispute began Tuesday when the board voted to increase oversight of Fletcher’s spending, which the sheriff welcomed.
He said his increased spending is due to significant increases in crime, the jail population, and court security needs, all of which result in increases in overtime. Fletcher said he repeatedly warned the board about these issues.
At the same time, the sheriff’s office has experienced $2 million in budget cuts over the last three years, according to Fletcher.
“For four years, crime has been rising and our residents have been living in an elevated state of fear. And for four years, the County Board has publicly ignored the issue and failed to act. In fact, you have De-funded Law Enforcement. Responding to citizens’ concerns about crime, at times, requires resources. This is one of those times,” Fletcher wrote in a four-page letter to the board.
JUST IN: @RamseySheriff fires back at Ramsey County Commissioners for “failing to address the crime crisis in the county” after board votes to increase oversight of Sheriff Fletcher’s spending which he has “no objections” to. pic.twitter.com/06xgi724dr
— Liz Collin (@lizcollin) February 22, 2023
In response, the board accused Fletcher of an “act of racism” because he excluded three commissioners of color from his letter.
“This act to exclude a subset of commissioners is a serious breach of protocol on its own terms. However, when one evaluates who you addressed and who you omitted, the issue becomes far more serious and concerning. Attempting to engage on countywide issues with white commissioners, while intentionally omitting commissioners of color from that discussion, is a racist act that deserves public attention and condemnation,” the board said in a Friday letter.
The commissioners also called a press conference Friday morning to further attack Fletcher, who pointed out that “the young man who was killed at Harding High School [was] being remembered at his funeral service” that same day.
Later in the evening, three teenagers were shot and suffered non-life-threatening injuries following a reception in St. Paul for the deceased student in an act of “possible retaliation,” according to Crime Watch Minneapolis.
Fletcher said he had good reasons for excluding the three commissioners of color from his original letter; two were just elected and so can’t be “held responsible” for “past failures,” and a third has “always worked with the Sheriff’s Office in a professional, good-faith manner.”
After @RamseyCounty Board accuses @RamseySheriff of an “act of racism” for his earlier letter, Fletcher fires back with another “while your press conference takes place today the young man killed at Harding HS is being remembered at his funeral service.” pic.twitter.com/aQ8bvIyWva
— Liz Collin (@lizcollin) February 25, 2023
The four remaining commissioners “continue to ignore the issue altogether, choosing instead to launch baseless claims in hopes of changing the subject.”
The board also criticized Fletcher for failing to “express any remorse or regret regarding your frequent overspending that has cost taxpayers millions.”
“All the while, Ramsey County has proactively invested tens of millions of dollars into public safety initiatives in just the last few years, including an additional $16 million just last year that was invested into public safety response programs aimed at addressing the root causes of crime and moving toward public safety delivery systems that are better equipped to respond to situations involving mental health and other issues that you frequently state you care about,” they wrote.
Fletcher discussed the issue in more detail during his popular Live on Patrol show Friday night.
“I’m never going to stop trying to make the community a safer place,” he said. “I’ve worked with hundreds of elected officials, hundreds, and I’ve never had such bizarre behavior as I’ve experienced in the last couple weeks.”
This article originally appeared at Alpha News.