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Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge receives new equipment as an award for the county’s Safe and Sober Program from Scott McConkey, the Law Enforcement Liaison for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. (Erin Trester/Daily Globe)

Rock County Sheriff’s Office recognized for service

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LUVERNE — “It’s the law — no discussion” has been Evan Verbrugge’s motto throughout his long career.

This kind of attitude helped the Rock County Sheriff’s Office receive an award for its Safe and Sober Program at Tuesday’s Rock County Board of Commissioners meeting in Luverne.

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Scott McConkey, the law enforcement liaison for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, presented the award to Verbrugge, who in addition to serving as Rock County’s sheriff is a Minnesota Traffic Safety representative.

“Rock County is part of that 90-percent figure in seat belt use in Minnesota,” McConkey said. “There have been many traffic initiatives to unite traffic laws throughout the state — regarding distracted driving and the move-over law that protects law enforcement and construction workers — and I believe it’s a priority to recognize the sheriff office for their work.”

Instead of a traditional plaque or certificate, Verbrugge and the sheriff’s office received $4,000 worth of new equipment for the department.

“I thought it would be better to provide equipment instead of a shiny plaque,” McConkey said.

The department was awarded a Stalker Lidar XLR, a hand-held speed detection device. It also received a breath-testing device and high-quality flashlights.

“The Rock County Sheriff’s Office will be better equipped to identify vehicles driving at illegal and unsafe speeds,” Verbrugge said. “Lidar is a tool that will help make our community safe.”

The Safe and Sober program is a statewide traffic enforcement program combining enhanced enforcement with public education and media relations. The program was initiated in Rock County in 1998 by Verbrugge, who was in charge of Safe and Sober for 10 years.

“The Rock County Sheriff’s Office is a partner, with hundreds of other departments, that strives toward zero deaths and focus enforcement towards that goal,” McConkey said.

Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) is a program coordinated with the Safe and Sober program. TZD strives to have zero traffic-related deaths.

“In 2011 we had our lowest fatality rate since 1944, but if you knew someone on that list it changes everything,” McConkey said. “If you know even one person on that list, it’s one too many.”

McConkey added a message addressed to Rock County citizens.

“Your deputies are not mean people,” he said. “They totally understand your situations, but we see the consequences if we don’t do our job.”

The Rock County Board approved the department receiving new equipment for a new deputy who will start in the beginning of January. A joint powers authority was approved between the sheriff’s office and the state court system to use the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension system, which is used to conduct criminal searches.

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Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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