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Bellows named interim Dakota County Sheriff

In the end, there was no surprise appointment.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners, on a unanimous vote, appointed Dakota County Chief Deputy Dave Bellows sheriff, replacing Don Gudmundson, whose resignation is effective this Sunday. The board also accepted his resignation Tuesday.

Gudmundson announced last September he would not seek a fifth term as Dakota County, choosing to retire at the end of 2010, but he changed his mind earlier this month and announced his plans to resign earlier.

Bellows has 30 years' experience in law enforcement. He began as patrol officer in Lakeville in 1980, and then promoted to sergeant and then lieutenant. He stayed with Lakeville for 19 years, and then joined the Dakota County Sheriff's Office. He has been chief deputy for 10 years.

As chief deputy, Bellows oversees a 265-bed jail, a budget of more than $18 million and a staff of nearly 200 employees.

Bellows has a bachelor's degree from Metropolitan State University and a master's degree in public administration from Hamline University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., as well as the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar. He has been an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University for its master's program in law enforcement and is currently a part-time instructor for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the police personnel management program.

"I want to thank the board for its confidence in me," Bellows told the commissioners. "I have been fortunate to work for an individual who is the best mentor in law enforcement in the state of Minnesota."

Bellows said he was shocked by Gudmundson's announcement to retire.

"He (Gudmundson) is someone who has given everything he has to Dakota County," said Bellows. "I wish him the best."

Bellows said he is looking forward to continuing "to make Dakota County the premier place for law enforcement in the state."

The commissioners had three options to consider in light of Gudmundson's resignation, Board Chair Thomas Egan said.

"The first one is to leave the position open," he said. "We are already short-staffed in the Sheriff's Department. By allowing the position to remain open, we would be lacking a senior officer."

The second option, that of holding a selection process, would take substantial time, with the position not being filled until April or May.

The third option of appointing the chief deputy is the best one, Egan said.

There was no other discussion and no one in the audience made any comments.

Gudmundson was not present at Tuesday's meeting. Backstrom read a letter from him to the commissioners. In the letter, he thanked the citizens of the county for allowing him to serve them, his staff, other county staff, commissioners, and current and past police chiefs in the county.

Backstrom also praised Gudmundson.

"He not only has been a good friend, but he is one of the finest sheriffs in the state and the country," Backstrom said

Gudmundson is a former police officer and homicide detective from Detroit, Mich. He also investigated organized crime (homicides) in Chicago. He is the former sheriff of Fillmore County, and the former chief of police in Lakeville.

Gudmundson was first elected Dakota County sheriff in 1994, and was re-elected in 1998, 2002, and 2006.