Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag reflects on career ahead of retirement

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(ABC 6 News) – Some could argue he’s one of the faces of Freeborn County, and after nearly 30 years in the field, Sheriff Kurt Freitag is ready to retire.

In the early 1990s, Freitag worked part-time in his hometown of Granite Falls. In 1995, he came to Freeborn County when he was hired by then-Sheriff Don Nolander.

“Well, it’s the preverbal drinking from a fire hose,” is how Freitag described his first few days on the job.

Like any other aspiring deputy, he went to school to learn as much as he can. Only skills training, can teach you so much.

“It only scratches the surface of what you need to know. It’s such a high learning curve and it’s only increased. It’s tough today to learn all the new things that law enforcement has compared to when I first started.”

One thing skills didn’t teach in the 90s is the ever-changing technology.

“At the start of our shift, we’d be in the squad room and you’d have to grab a homemade box. It was a homemade box with your 35mm camera and maybe four extra rolls of film. We had a tape measure,” Freitag explained.

No computers. No in-car cameras. He did have a radio. It just didn’t go very far.

“Our portables didn’t work beyond Perkins. A lot of times, we’d have to go in Perkins and they were so used to us having their phone to call dispatch they’re okay with us going behind the counter and grabbing the phone.”

Technology wasn’t the only thing to change. So did Freitag’s role. The veteran became the Freeborn County Sheriff in 2015. It wasn’t long before his goals became a reality including courtroom and security checkpoints at the Law Enforcement Center. And, the introduction of body cameras.

“Well, I didn’t really have anybody to give me some pointers to tell me these are the things you’re going to be doing on a daily basis. Anticipate this happening, you know.

“I defeated the incumbent and soon after I defeated him, there’s that time period between the election and when you take office. He was pretty much gone the whole time.”

One person who wasn’t gone was Chief Deputy Todd Earl. Starting soon after Freitag, the two immediately clicked. Becoming best friends both in and out of work.

“Kurt is probably the closest [friend] I’ve ever had in law enforcement,” said Earl.

“The sad incidents we’ve gone to, the fun, the people I’ve worked with are the best people I could ever imagine working with. That’s why it’s going to be tough.”

As for Earl, he will miss the pranks between him and Freitag.

“I went down to my squad car and was going to go out on patrol. I turn the ignition on, next thing I know, about 8,000 paper punches had come flying out of my vents.”

A friendship Freitag said won’t change as he heads into his next chapter. Freitag and another friend started a business called D & K Demo and Excavation last year.

“That’s what I want to do,” said Freitag.

“We have smaller equipment we want to do some of the jobs that some of the bigger companies just don’t have time to do.”

In addition to the new job, Freitag said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. His last day is December 31st.