Murray County Sheriff asked to resign over ‘disturbing behavior’
SLAYTON — The Murray County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday asked for the immediate resignation of Sheriff Steve Telkamp, based on allegations of workplace harassment and a hostile work environment.
The board’s actions come following the release of a report from Minneapolis Attorney Michelle Soldo, who was hired to conduct an independent investigation into Telkamp’s actions after a concerned employee brought forward video footage of “disturbing behavior.”
Based on video and audio footage, as well as testimony from witnesses, Soldo said Telkamp “engaged in objectively inappropriate, aggressive, disparaging, profane, abusive and sexually charged behavior perceived and reported by observers as a continuing pattern of hostile and threatening behavior.”
The board cannot fire Telkamp, as he is a publicly elected official. His term expires at the end of this year.
Within the report, Telkamp is quoted ranting about County Coordinator Aurora Heard, saying she is involved in “illegal [expletive].”
“If I could prove it, I would walk over there and throw that [expletives] on the ground and arrest her,” Telkamp was recorded saying.
The report says Telkamp sought to undermine the board in several ways — by urging an employee to file a grievance, by supporting employees that sue the county and by calling the Department of Labor. It states he talked about getting new commissioners in office that would terminate Heard, and threatened the job of a dispatcher that associated with one of the commissioners.
Telkamp allegedly refused to implement policies coming from the county board and directed his employees not to follow them.
“Do they want my [expletive] boot up their [expletive]?” he is quoted as saying in the report. “[Expletive] their policy. This is my house.”
In January, Telkamp publicly accused the board of conspiring against his employees when the county proposed budget cuts to the department.
The board has taken action to protect employees against retaliation and make arrangements to provide 24/7 security coverage at the sheriff’s department for as long as necessary.
The board also plans to discuss and vote on the retention of an operational director for the Sheriff’s Department. If approved, the individual would be the point of contact on all personnel and operational matters in the department, including the oversight of dispatch operations.
The county said it will not be making any further comments on the matter.
Telkamp could not immediately be reached for comment. His response can be read here.