See more of the story

Former Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson has been terminated from his position as a sergeant at Metro Transit Police.

The firing follows an internal investigation that found Hutchinson violated Metro Transit Police Department's policies by being arrested for driving while intoxicated and crashing his sheriff's vehicle in December 2021, and by creating a hostile work environment while serving as sheriff. He pleaded guilty in the DWI case, and his peace officer license was suspended for 30 days.

Metro Transit Police Chief Ernest Morales III wrote in the findings that Hutchinson's behavior reflected negatively on the chief, the department and law enforcement in general.

"Your behavior demonstrated poor judgment and reflected poorly on all of us in the department," Morales wrote.

The termination was confirmed in a statement Thursday by Metropolitan Council Communications Director Terri Dresen. His last day of employment was March 17, the termination letter shows. It puts an end to a law enforcement career that saw Hutchinson, a first-time candidate and rank-and-file Metro Transit officer, pull off a surprise upset against longtime Sheriff Rich Stanek in 2018.

By May 2022, Hutchinson went on leave from the Sheriff's Office, shortly after the county launched a probe into claims by county command staff. It found Hutchinson engaged in a pattern of harassment and workplace bullying in violation of the county's nondiscrimination and respectful workplace policy, which includes racist, sexist, harassing, bullying and retaliatory behavior.

The Hennepin County Board voted unanimously to censure Hutchinson in December for the violations.

He did not run for re-election, and his term in office ended at the end of 2022. He returned to work at Metro Transit as a sergeant in January, and was put on leave during the department's own investigation of his behavior as sheriff.

"After Mr. Hutchinson's reinstatement, a formal complaint was filed, and the Met Council did a full investigation into the allegations," Dresen said in the statement. Under state law, elected officials can be reinstated to the public job they held before taking elective office. Dresen said the Met Council was required by law to rehire Hutchinson.

The investigation's findings, provided to media outlets Thursday, listed six policies and procedures Hutchinson violated, calling the range of his conduct "criminal, dishonest or disgraceful."

Specific violations included carrying a gun while intoxicated, and making false statements to police following his DWI, Morales wrote.

Hutchinson crashed his department SUV on Interstate 94 at 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2021. His blood alcohol content was 0.13%, over the state's legal limit of 0.08%. He had attended a law enforcement convention in Alexandria earlier that night, and had not traveled far before he crashed. He had been driving at speeds in excess of 120 mph.

Someone who answered what is believed to be Hutchinson's cellphone on Thursday afternoon denied knowing him. His attorney for the DWI did not return calls seeking comment.

Hutchinson was given an opportunity for a hearing March 17 to defend himself, but did not attend, according to the termination letter. On Wednesday, Hutchinson submitted a letter waiving his right to challenge the firing.

His leave at the Sheriff's Office began May 18, and he received a little under $101,000 in paid leave before leaving the department, according to a county spokesperson. So far he has reimbursed the county $6,250 for the vehicle he totaled, which he agreed to pay $48,000 for total.

Over 10 months he collected more than $120,000 combined of paid leave from the two departments, KSTP-TV reported last month.

According to the Metropolitan Council, Hutchinson had been reinstated Jan. 2 as a sergeant at $55.09 per hour, or $114,587 annually. When he left Metro Transit as a sergeant in December 2018, shortly after his election as county sheriff, he was paid $44.26 an hour, or $92,060 a year.