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Investigation under way as Tim Gordon steps down after 10 years as Becker County sheriff

Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon, shown here in 2010 with Youth Everyday Hero Award recipient Matt Padtra, was elected sheriff in 2002. Forum file photo

Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon resigned Tuesday, saying he plans to retire after more than 34 years with the sheriff's office.

In a letter to the Becker County Board of Commissioners, Gordon cited "multiple personal reasons" for his resignation, which is effective Oct. 30.

Gordon was hired by the sheriff's office on July 1, 1978, as a deputy assigned to the White Earth Reservation. He served in several capacities, including as a child abuse investigator, DARE officer and for 17½ years as a K-9 officer, before being elected sheriff in November 2002.

Gordon said it's been a good, fulfilling career and "an exhausting 10 years."

"There comes a time where a person has to take care of personal life also, and family, and they're the ones that have been neglected over the years," he said in a phone interview.

Gordon confirmed he recently provided information to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that he described as "contractual information" related to the state Department of Natural Resources. He said he couldn't elaborate on the nature of the information or what prompted the BCA's request, and he couldn't accurately recall when BCA officials were there.

"That's an issue that we're crossing, and I've provided them with the information, so I have no idea where that is, but that did not have anything to do with my decision," he said.

"If there is an issue, I will deal with it outside the realm of Becker County, but you know, at that point, there's just nothing more I can say about it," he added.

County Administrator Jack Ingstad said Gordon informed him a couple of weeks ago "that there was an investigation pending and (he) wanted me aware of it."

Ingstad said he had no information about the investigation beyond what Gordon told The Forum, and he said his office hasn't been contacted by the BCA. The DNR has a number of agreements with the county, he said.

BCA spokesman Bruce Gordon said in a statement that the agency can neither confirm nor deny whether the sheriff's office is being investigated.

Tim Gordon is leaving in the middle of a four-year term. He said retiring now will give the new sheriff time to settle in before Becker County's "notoriously busy" summer season.

"To give a replacement the best opportunity, to give Becker County what they deserve, it's best that I do it now," he said. "If I'd have stayed in office, it would have been nothing but self-serving and false pride that would have kept me here for a few more months."

Ingstad said the board has two options to fill the position: If the board takes no action, Chief Deputy Kelly Shannon will become sheriff and serve the remainder of Gordon's term. The board also could appoint a new sheriff to serve out the term.

The county's attorney said having a special election isn't an option for the sheriff's position, Ingstad said.

The board will likely discuss the options at its next meeting on Oct. 23, he said.

Gordon said some long-term projects that all came to fruition this year took a toll on him.

After taking over as sheriff in 2003, Gordon said he began the process of bringing public safety in Becker County into the 21st century. Among the long-term projects was remodeling the sheriff's office, including updating dispatch equipment that allowed the office to begin installing a new federally mandated radio system that will be completed this fall.

Other projects that concluded this year involved the jail, the 911 system and a computer information sharing system with Mahnomen, Clearwater and Becker counties and White Earth police.

"A lot of things came to a conclusion all at once. And the thing is, it took all of my energies, all of my time," Gordon said.

As sheriff, Gordon oversees 29 full-time sworn personnel, 29 sworn part-time officers who are mostly volunteers, the 21-member Becker County Mounted Posse and the 14-member Becker County Dive Rescue team, he said.

Gordon has three children and three stepchildren. He and his wife, Patty, also have five grandchildren.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528