The Hennepin County Board unanimously approved the censure of outgoing Sheriff David Hutchinson for violating workplace discrimination and bullying policies.
Hutchinson, who has been on an unspecified health-related paid leave since May, continues to be investigated by the county about the allegations. He also had his peace officer license suspended for a month in November because of a drunk driving crash involving a county-owned vehicle in 2021.
A committee of the board voted to move forward with the censure during a meeting last week. All seven commissioners are members of the committee.
Hutchinson did not attend Thursday's County Board meeting. He declined to comment on the censure.
This isn't the first sign of the board's displeasure with Hutchinson's service as sheriff. Several commissioners, as well as Gov. Tim Walz and community activists, called for his resignation after the drunk driving crash. Since the sheriff's office is an elected position, the board has no authority to remove him.
The county hired an outside investigator who conducted interviews with the sheriff's staff. The investigator contacted Hutchinson and his lawyer to participate in the inquiry, but they refused to cooperate, according to the county.
The investigator determined 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.
Hutchinson was a sergeant with Metro Transit police when he defeated longtime incumbent Rich Stanek four years ago. He was considered a progressive sheriff with his policy changes involving treatment of inmates over drug, mental health and immigration issues.
He suffered serious injuries in the late-night crash on Dec. 8, 2021 following a sheriff's conference in Alexandria. He totaled the county's SUV, initially telling the first responders on the scene that he wasn't the driver.
He had a blood alcohol level of 0.13%, above the legal driving limit in Minnesota. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunk driving offense. He admitted to having a drinking problem and checked himself into treatment.