New sheriff in town: Hennepin County Sheriff-elect Dawanna Witt focused on violent crime

There’s a new sheriff in town. Major Dawanna Witt easily won her race to become the next Hennepin County Sheriff on Tuesday. Thursday, she met with the media for the first time.

"I won’t let you down. I plan on being the best sheriff this agency has ever seen," said Sheriff-elect Witt.

And as the incoming sheriff, Witt says she’ll get things rolling right away with a hard focus on staffing and recruitment.

"Right now we have staff, men, and women that wear the uniform that are doing that job," said Witt. "It's my goal to hire civilian staff to where that’s what they’re focusing on, so that our uniform staff can focus on the violent crime that we are seeing around the county."

The transition to sheriff is unique for Witt who will move into the office without the help of current Sheriff Dave Hutchinson, who is on leave. But with the help of a transition team, she will appoint, Major Witt says she has a strong belief in collaboration with other agencies and community engagement to fight crime -- not just in Minneapolis but throughout the entire county.

"We do know that violent crime does not have any boundaries, does not have any jurisdiction, so we’re lucky that we have people that are actively pursuing that we not just do our best that people have a sense at being safe but actually being safe," she said.

Witt says her style is upbeat. She enjoys her job and wants others to do so as well; she also loves a good joke.

"I’ll be the funniest sheriff ever because I love humor, but I’m also straight to the point and I believe in being transparent and honest," she added.

Major Witt has a huge responsibility and she knows it, being the first African American woman to be Hennepin County Sheriff.

"To know that that representation there not only being the first Black person but also the first woman in this role," Witt said. "I’m thinking already about who did I just pave the way for what is the  next generation going to look like, providing that hope."