Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher talks violence against police

Sheriff Bob Fletcher isn’t mincing words about the increase in assaults on law enforcement, after one of his deputies was injured by gunfire over the weekend.

A Ramsey County deputy was injured Friday night when he was shot at during a chase. Investigators say a passenger in the suspect vehicle opened fire, striking the deputy on his bullet proof vest.

"Six inches higher and he would have been dead," said Sheriff Fletcher.

Fletcher is concerned about the increasing prevalence of attacks on law enforcement, saying its made retention and recruitment extremely hard.

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, assaults on police more than doubled from 2019 to 2022. 

Fletcher says mental health and access to guns are contributing factors, but the Ramsey County Sheriff mostly blames anti-police rhetoric from some elected officials.

"You can’t just label an entire profession as easily as they have and I’m talking about high level officials…its damaging," said Fletcher. "The young kids who have heard this message the last four or five years are emboldened."

There were 350 officers assaulted statewide in 2016, compared with 1,062 officers in 2022.  And while community support has been strong in the wake of the Burnsville shooting, Fletcher says it hasn’t decreased the risk.

"Can you care about us before we’re dead?" said Fletcher. "Everyone rushes to make a positive statement when someone is killed but before that the support is waning."