Investigations Reveal Misconduct In Pine County

PINE CITY, Minn. (WCCO) — In the past year, the Pine County Sheriff’s Office has conducted nearly a dozen internal investigations involving 15 of its employees.

On Monday, the sheriff spoke out about those investigations and the possibility of criminal charges in the future.

The allegations came from within the department, as well as from Pine County residents.

They involved excessive force, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

But the biggest complaint was about missing guns that were confiscated by deputies.

Sheriff Robin Cole took office just more than a year ago. He said it was a fluke, that he stumbled across paperwork showing a number of guns were taken from the property room, and assigned to deputies.

Now, there is a push to right the wrongs and change the culture of the department.

“I was having visits from community members I would say two to three times a week,” said Cole.

Cole said the complaints from the community kept coming in, forcing him to launch an internal investigation.

The ongoing investigation that may lead to criminal charges deals with guns.

“It appears that 12 firearms have mysteriously disappeared from our property room. What happened to those guns, we may never know,” Cole said.

Sheriff Cole says in 2008 the previous administration held an auction to dispose of forfeited firearms and 170 guns were sold.

Later that year, paperwork showed a number of guns taken from the property room were assigned to deputies.

But a review showed those guns were documented as sold at auction.

“We’ve implemented a whole bunch of changes in this agency,” Cole said.

The property room has added security measures and cameras, access to the room has been extremely limited.

The department has also been restructured so that every employee now has a direct supervisor.

It’s a push in the right direction but some feeling of mistrust still remains.

“Were there for them not to oppress them or arrest them but were there for them,” Cole said.

We could not find anyone in Pine City who would talk on camera about the allegations against the Sheriff’s department.

The reported allegations include excessive force and abuse of authority.

Sheriff Cole says other departments are involved in those investigations to avoid a conflict of interest.

More from Reg Chapman
  • Sgt.Mead

    Hu?? What?? Crooked Cops & their civilian staf?? No Way!!

  • GW

    i lived in pine city for a little more than a decade…filthy fat-a$$ed deputy,man…commited all kinds of deeds behind his badge, people said,especially sleeping with lonely gullable gals…

  • Kris Berglund

    I am a victim of Pine County, A local women was convicted of a crime against me and ordered by the judge to have no contact with me! She would sit outside our house drunk and disorderly and tell us to go ahead and call the cops because they wouldn’t do anything to her because she was trading sexual favors! I was also told by locals that you could get paperwork to disapear for the exchange of drugs! When I tried to see the sheriff about my concern, he refused to see me and sent out a deputy who said until my family was injured they would do nothing. I have seen this same criminal get away with alot of crimes and break probation on a regular basis. For the saftey of my family I was forced to close up the house I own and rent in a distant county away from my family and friends!

  • See BS

    It’s probably boring up there — they don’t have anything to do so they have to investigate themselves.

    Perhaps they should just lay-off everyone except for the people on patrols, lower property taxes, or buy something for the local school district instead.

  • Klancy

    I like being a cop, abusing people and taking their stuff.

    • Wille Ketchum

      I can attest for that Klanc

  • your joking me?

    What a joke: Sheriff Cole investigating his own police department! that will get results. lol

  • jackactionhero

    Plenty of misconduct on the comment pages right here. Read the comments on just about any story here and you will see, people are wacko.

    • desert eagle .50

      Well, you’re certainly an authority on the finer points of wackoness. In fact, you’ve elevated it to an art form, which must bring your parents great joy. If we could only find them.

      What “misconduct” do you see on the comment pages?

      Oh, and as always, please be specific.

      • MM

        thanks Desert Eagle .50, I kept reading the comments wondering what was said that was considered misconduct, I think jack might be wacked.

    • Barney Fife

      It’s a good thing that you’re around to set people straight, Jack.

  • resident of pine

    Pine County has always published the names and details of its own citizens…which is really none of anyone’s business…So, are they going to publish the names and details of “their own”? Or are they going to cover that up?

    • Andy

      Yeah right resident of pine. If you have not realized already people with badges don’t have to follow the same rules as us common people have too. So if I read this article right, there was theft, and assaults. The biggest punishment handed out so far is termination? How about some criminal charges? Yeah right! Another perfect example of why there needs to be civilian oversight into police departments. This will be another police policing police, and the district attorney will miraculously not have enough evidence to convict anyone. If it were me or you common folk we would be rotting in a county jail while the DA does everything possible to convict us. Now lets get the ridiculous rebuttals to my post below how all cops are heroes and a few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the bunch. Joke.

      • ICU

        It says in the story, “The ongoing investigation that may lead to criminal charges deals with guns.”

        • Andy

          You’re right ICU they always say that in these cases. Like I said, two things will happen. Wcco/state run media will not run this story and the DA will “not be able to find sufficient evidence to convict anyone.” Stay tuned

  • too sad

    Very well said Andy, I do believe it is very common for the small town police, judges…. to give special treatment to friends and relatives. And I have seen it. I believe there are a few good apples and the rest are rotten. We can never win the battle.

  • Rufus Larkin

    In Pine County, they are mostly more low middle class drunk white folks with backyard propane tanks like Coon Lake Beach

  • Rocky

    makes me sick…..Deputies should not be called cops, because they arn’t. there police WANT_A_BE’S…..80% of them are jerks………

  • angus

    How about that! Stuck up for the cops and get censored. All I said was don’t paint all law enforcement with the same brush until we find out what has happened. New sheriff and he is digging but it takes a long time on an internal investigation.

    Hey Rocky, deputies have the same requirement to get a license as police. Also, when people are so anti law enforcement I wonder, “How many tickets or crimes have you been guilty of?” Sort of like the anti-gays who are so vocal, I wonder, “Are they unsure of themselves or are they gays in hiding?” I assume you were happy when the Lake City officer died protecting a 17 year old woman. Is this correct?

    • em0886

      I think what people are tired of is the mentality of just because you have a badge they think they treat people however they want..abuse their powers and be just as shady as the criminal they are arresting. I have seen it first hand and at the same time I have met and respect a good percentage of the officers….however the bad ones are the ones we hear about the most and that gives us a rotten taste.

  • Bob from S MN

    I am thinking it is time for a different agency to investigate this department and time to clean house. Bring in the water board they will tell what happened to the missing fire arms.

  • alligator

    dismissal and jail time are THE ONLY remedies…..and lets not forget to name each defendant and their entire file—just like they do to the citizenry…..its no wonder why so many people detest law enforcement.

  • Jack Lord


  • MN Resident

    Bob is right, they should have an outside agency investigate the department.

  • John W. Noraas

    “Sheriff Cole says other departments are involved in those investigations to avoid a conflict of interest.” Does anyone actually read the article? This sheriff seems like he is trying to correct the problems.

    • Andy

      Doesn’t matter other departments are involved, they still other cops. It’s still police policing police! There needs to be civilian oversight into police departments, period!

  • Andy

    Sorry walking and typing on my iPad you get my point.

  • chris


  • chris

    And you wonder why people hate the police

  • TimeTo CleanHouse

    I’ve personally seen deputies from the prior Pine County Sheriffs department help a drunk driver get back on the road. The guy was stuck in our driveway, beer cans falling out of his car and him staggering. The deputy pushed the drunks card back onto the street and let him drive away. No breath test, nothing. Just helped him get back on the pubic street so he could go kill someone.
    Another incident I know of was when one deputy (I dont want to mention names here but this one was so fat he could only Waddle. Maybe you’ll know who I mean ;)), was caught taking guns from the bedroom closet, and putting them in the trunk of the squad car, of a house where there had been a suicide attempt and the family was at the hospital. Part of the family came home early and confronted him. He said he was taking the guns for evidence. The family members were upset about everything that had happend and didn;t want any trouble so they allowed him to take the guns. The guns were never returned and the family was told that the dept didn’t have any record of the guns.
    Then there’s the incident of the snowmobiles that were taken in as stolen property and were kept in the barn of one of the dupties near Pine CIty. When the rightful owners of the snowmobiles tracked down the sleds about a year later, the sleds couldn’t be found.
    Or the story of the female pine county deputy that hit another vehicle with her squad car in the Pamida parking lot and then fled the scene of the accident because she didn’t want to be caught using the squad car for person use.
    There are sooooo many stories like these that Pine County residents can tell. The former Pine County sheriff’s dept. was run by a crooked, lazy, fat @$$ good-ol-boys-club that no citizen in the county would dare to complain about out of fear for what might happen to them or their familly. When a good deputy got hired, fat @$$ old lazy ones made sure they either got rid of them or else pulled the new ones down to their slimy level.
    It’s good to see a shake-down. It should’ve happened years ago.

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