Richard W. Stanek

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Rich Stanek
Richard Stanek-20090804.JPG
Sheriff of Hennepin County
Assumed office
January 1, 2007
Preceded by Pat McGowan
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 32B district
In office
January 7, 2003 – January 30, 2003
Preceded by Michelle Rifenberg
Succeeded by Kurt Zellers
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 33B district
In office
March 13, 1995 – January 7, 2003
Preceded by Warren Limmer
Succeeded by Barb Sykora
Personal details
Born (1962-02-02) February 2, 1962 (age 55)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sally Stanek
Alma mater University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Hamline University

Richard W. "Rich" Stanek (born February 2, 1962) is a Minnesota Republican politician. He became the 27th Hennepin County Sheriff on January 1, 2007. Stanek served from 1986 to 2006 as a police officer in Minneapolis, served from 1995 to 2003 in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and served from 2003 to 2004 as Commissioner of Public Safety under Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Early life and education[edit]

Stanek was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[1] He holds a B.A. in criminal justice from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. in public administration from Hamline University.[1]

Police service[edit]

Stanek began his career in the Minneapolis Police Department in 1986 as a patrol officer.[2][3] He rose in the ranks, serving as Second Precinct commander,[3] and eventually commander of criminal investigations.[2]

House of Representatives[edit]

While serving as a police officer, Stanek served five terms in the Minnesota State Legislature.[2] He was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in a 1995 special election to replace Warren Limmer, who had left the House for the Minnesota Senate. Stanek was elected, and represented Maple Grove, Minnesota until 2003. He served as chair of the Crime Prevention committee from 1999–2001, and the chair of the Judiciary Finance committee from 2001-2003.[1]

While in the legislature, Stanek wrote the Minnesota's felony DWI statute.[2] Stanek also introduced many bills related to law enforcement, including legislation "requiring a driver's license revocation for anyone convicted of fleeing a police officer; allowing for a verdict of "guilty but mentally ill" in state courts; creating a mandatory life sentence for a second violent felony conviction; ... [and] specifying that an officer's 'use of less lethal munitions does not constitute deadly force.'"[3] Stanek also sought funding for CODEFOR, a computerized crime-tracking system.[3]

Commissioner of Public Safety[edit]

In 2003, Stanek was appointed by Tim Pawlenty to serve as Commissioner of Public Safety and Director of Homeland Security. He resigned his seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and took office, serving until April 2004, when his involvement in an 1989 incident involving an alleged assault and racial slurs by Stanek came to light.

Hennepin County Sheriff[edit]

Stanek was elected Sheriff in 2006, replacing former Sheriff Pat McGowan. Sworn in on January 1, 2007, Stanek was re-elected in 2010 and again in 2014.[2] In all three elections, Stanek was supported by some members of the African American community, who cited Stanek's willingness to admit to past mistakes, and his work with African American officers in the Minneapolis police department.[3]

Stanek is on the executive committee of the National Sheriffs Association, serving as vice president.[4][5]


Assault, Racial Slurs[edit]

In 1989, Stanek allegedly shouted racial epithets and assaulted an African American driver at the scene of a traffic accident in which he was involved. The case was ultimately settled out of court.[3]

False Communications[edit]

In 2007 Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan criticized Stanek for providing false information in the 26-minute video on the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge and for taking credit for actions that weren't his responsibility.[6] The $30,000 film was funded with forfeited money earmarked for training. "His theft of the credit is not going to sit well with my staff and our hard working partners," Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan said in an e-mail. The St. Cloud company that produced the video was the same company that handled advertising and marketing for Stanek's campaign in 2006.[7]


Rich Stanek in 2014

Melissa Hill, who ran a campaign against Stanek under the slogan "Kitten for Sheriff"[8] was awarded $15,000 in a federal civil rights settlement against Hennepin County.[9][10] Hennepin County paid $15,000 to Melissa Hill for allegedly trespassing at Occupy Minneapolis. Hill's attorney Jordan Kushner said that "She was arrested and put in jail for no reason but for retaliation by the sheriff for being a political activist" and that Hill saw Stanek watching her from his SUV before she was arrested. He argued that both her original trespass order and arrest were unconstitutional. Hill was a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild at that time of the arrest. "I feel I was vindicated," said Hill. "I was arrested on a public sidewalk. This sends a strong message that they can't be misusing their trespass policy to suppress free speech."[9]


In 2010 after his re-election Stanek was involved in a conflict with the County Board of Commissioners over his budget. The conflict, arising as the budget season kicked in, highlighted the divisions among powerful elected officials who have different views of the county's priorities at a time when budgets are being frozen and services cut. Stanek "advocates for a larger role for the Hennepin County sheriff, and he wants to be held harmless from any budget cuts," Board Chair Mike Opat said. "But public safety is done by a lot of people, not only the sheriff. The sheriff is not the generalissimo of Hennepin County."[11]

Standing Rock, North Dakota[edit]

In October 2016, Stanek sent Hennepin County deputies and equipment to North Dakota to assist law enforcement efforts there to suppress the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.[12] The personnel sharing, under the auspices of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, sparked protests and was met with criticism from Minneapolis City Council member Alondra Cano, state Senator Patricia Torres Ray, state Representative Peggy Flanagan, and Clyde Bellecourt.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Stanek is married and has one son and one daughter.[1] He is a Catholic.[1]

Ryan Stanek[edit]

His son, Ryan Stanek, has been charged with numerous criminal violations. Including two Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges. One in 2015[14] and one in 2017.[15] He has also been twice charged with possession of marijuana, in 2012; and in 2016 after his truck was searched following his rear-ending and severely damaging a fire truck. In 2014, Stanek was charged with felony property damage after he went "mudding" in a public park.[16][17] His son was also recently charged for soliciting a 13 year old minor for sex, and possessing child pornography. </ref><ref>


  1. ^ a b c d e Stanek, Richard 'Rich'. Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
  2. ^ a b c d e Meet the Sheriff. Hennepin County Sheriff's Office (retrieved July 14, 2016).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Anderson Jr., G.R. (November 1, 2006) The Rehabilitation of Rich Stanek. City Pages.
  4. ^ "Executive Committee". National Sheriffs' Association. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ Brucato, Cyndy (June 8, 2016). "Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek sure sounds like he's going to run for governor". MinnPost. 
  6. ^ Kaszuba, Mike (December 15, 2007). "Some smell politics in Stanek's $30,000 training video". Star Tribune. 
  7. ^ Collins, Bob (December 20, 2007). "Stanek’s training video". MPR News. 
  8. ^ Van Denburg, Hart (February 22, 2010). "Rich Stanek faces kitten competition for Hennepin County Sheriff". City Pages. 
  9. ^ a b Furst, Randy (February 1, 2012). "Occupy Minnesota protester gets $15K in trespass lawsuit". Star Tribune. 
  10. ^ "Hill v. Stanek et al". Justia. December 7, 2011. 
  11. ^ Duchschere, Kevin (October 11, 2010). "Rich Stanek has bigger plans for Sheriff's Office". Star Tribune. 
  12. ^ McCardle, Ellery (October 25, 2016). "Hennepin Co. sends deputies to ND pipeline protest". KARE. 
  13. ^ Furst, Randy; Brunswick, Mark (October 26, 2016). "Protesters oppose Hennepin County deputies being sent to North Dakota protests". Star Tribune. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ felony property damage in 2014 when he and several friends allegedly went “mudding” in Three Rivers Park, damaging a horse trail.
  17. ^