LETTER: Deputies should be held accountable

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I was westbound on Hwy. 34, heading through Akeley. I saw a sheriff's deputy sitting across from the Shell station on the north side of the road. I wasn't doing anything wrong, but out of habit, I watched him till he was out of sight in my mirror. He hadn't moved.

I got out of town into the 60 mph zone. Out of nowhere, without warning, the cop goes flying by me and the car ahead of me, whom I might add he cut off.

Since I was just a little boy, I have had a problem with authority figures that pay no regard to the very rules, regulations, and laws that govern their own doing. This led me to researching statutes and understanding what cops etc. are and aren’t allowed to do. One of those things is driving outside of the law that regulates the average citizen.

Law enforcement and other emergency vehicles have lights and sirens to warn the public that they are driving outside of these legal limits for the safety of the people. I first brought it to the attention of Scott Parks, the chief deputy of the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department. He reassured me that if any law was broken he would hold the officer accountable.

I waited about a week and hadn't heard anything, as he was going to update me on how it was being handled. I stopped in again and this time Hubbard County Sheriff Corey Aukes was on duty. He reassured me that he had heard about the situation and they decided that the officer was within the laws. I asked him to send the Minnesota statute that allowed such a thing to happen because everything I had read said they have to at least have emergency lights or sirens on. He ended up sending it to me in the mail. It was 169.03. That statute states special actions available to cops when on a call or in pursuit, in accordance with Subdivision 2 “stop lights/signs,” Subdivision 3 “one-way roads” and Subdivision 4 “parking at an emergency scene.”


Aukes told me that Subdivision 5 “course of duty” applies. It says, “No driver of any authorized emergency vehicle shall assume any special privilege under this chapter except when such vehicle is operated in response to any emergency call or in the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, relieves the police of keeping the public safe by using lights and or sirens.”

I then brought to his attention that statute and those subdivisions only applied to 169.03, when in fact, MN Statute 169.17 is the statute which governs the use of lights or sirens and it reads as follows: “The speed limitations set forth in sections 169.14 to 169.17 do not apply to an authorized emergency vehicle responding to an emergency call. Drivers of all emergency vehicles shall sound an audible signal by siren and display at least one lighted red light to the front, except that law enforcement vehicles shall sound an audible signal by siren or display at least one lighted red light to the front. This provision does not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of persons using the street, nor does it protect the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the consequence of a reckless disregard of the safety of others.”

Law enforcement needs to be held accountable for actions that put the public they've sworn to protect in harm's way due to disregard of the very law that governs them.

Don't vote Aukes next time around. For his total disregard for the law, he should be forced to resign immediately. No more cop-outs for the cops! I am still asking that Scott holds the deputies that have broken the law responsible and proper tickets are issued to put into the public general fund of Minnesota.

It is my opinion that officers should be held to a higher standard, as it is their responsibility to uphold and enforce laws. They should be setting examples for our children by using proper morals and following the law that they expect us to follow.

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes replies:

“As the sheriff of Hubbard County, I am proud to say that I hold my staff accountable. Mr. Abbot made a complaint against one of my deputies. The incident was assigned to one of the sergeants to investigate, and after getting the opinion of the Hubbard County Attorney, it was determined that the actions of the deputy was reasonable and not a violation of law or policy. Mr. Abbot feels that a couple of MN statutes contradict each other and wished for me to hold fast on one and not the other.


He was passed on Hwy. 34 by a deputy that needed to exceed the speed limit in order to catch up to another vehicle that the deputy then pulled over. The law allows law enforcement to exceed the speed limit without activating their red lights and siren for this specific purpose. At times, there is good reason for doing this. Under some circumstances, an officer does not want to let a violator know well in advance that they are about to be stopped. To reduce the chances of the vehicle fleeing, it is simply best to get closer to the suspect vehicle before turning on one’s red lights. And this is what Mr. Abbot has a problem with and doesn’t agree with. His complaint was answered in person and in writing.

Our conversation ended with Mr. Abbot admitting that he was mad over an old ticket because the officer was ‘hiding’ and happened to witness his own wrongdoing. When he began yelling and swearing at the sheriff’s office over his old ticket, I was done talking to him. I am happy to deal with the current situation, but not when his past influences his motive and his inability in accepting the truth.”

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