County documents show Mower County Sheriff may have had history of questionable conduct

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(ABC 6 News) – ABC 6 News has obtained security camera footage from inside the Mower County Law Enforcement Center of Sheriff Steve Sandvik on November 16, the day he was accused of being drunk at work. Sandvik was also accused of harassing employees – prompting an investigation by a St. Paul law firm.

The investigation found no evidence of harassment, but did say that an Austin Police Captain trained to recognize intoxication determined Sandvik was drunk because of slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and the smell of alcohol on his breath.

The video, and some additional documents ABC 6 News has obtained, have raised some new questions.

The video is about 45 minutes of Sandvik walking the halls and talking to coworkers. Sandvik can be seen wearing his uniform along with a weapon attached to his belt.

An email obtained by ABC 6 News dated November 17, the day after the incident, shows Austin Police Chief David McKichan citing a state statute.

“I understand that we did not proceed toward however it was something Todd verbally addressed with him in that conversation yesterday,” McKichan wrote in an email to county staff.

That statute reads: “A person may not carry a pistol on or about the person’s clothes or person in a public place when the person is under the influence of alcohol.”

We asked McKichan why the Austin Police Department did not pursue this statute. The chief declined to comment.

Other emails call into question Sandvik’s behavior on two other occasions. In an email chain about the investigation last fall. County Administrator Trish Harren tells APD:

“We may also need to interview staff who provided information regarding observed behavior during Shop with a Cop and National Night Out.”

Another email dated Nov. 22 between Captain Todd Clennon and Mower County Human Resources says three police officers observed the sheriff acting bizarre at Shop with a Cop in 2021.

According to City Attorney Craig Byram, neither incident was ever investigated.

Chief McKichan and Captain Todd Clennon both said they would not comment. Sheriff Sandvik, as well as all Mower County Commissioners did not return calls from ABC 6 News.

The county says that because Sandvik is an elected official, they have no control over his conduct.