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Sexual Harassment Ends Marshall County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Career (Again)

Marshall County needs to update its website. As of this morning, they still list Dale Elsen as their sheriff. But last week, for the second time, the state Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training Commission said Dale Elsen is too naughty to be a lawman in South Dakota. The commission met Thursday to consider alternative punishments, as Judge Tony Portra ordered them back in April, but they came to the same conclusion: taking Elsen’s badge is the proper response to his bad behavior:

After hours of testimony and executive session discussion, the commission ultimately came to the same unanimous conclusion to revoke Elsen’s license. Suspension would ultimately place too much of a burden on lower level officers who would have to shoulder Elsen’s responsibilities while suspended, they said. The state doesn’t have enough resources to oversee a sheriff’s probation. Elsen has already undergone sexual harassment training twice now, and at least one of the allegations took place after his first training [Sarah Mearhoff, “Sheriff’s Certification Revoked,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2019.09.05].

Elsen seems to have waved his hands vaguely at other harassers, thus prompting Attorney General and LEOSTC panelist Jason Ravnsborg to promise to tackle any government corruption anywhere:

Elsen, as well as several other testifiers, said they don’t believe workplace sexual harassment is confined to the Marshal County Sheriff’s Office. Former county commissioner Paul Symens said “it used to be more widespread, but society has changed. Law enforcement has tightened up.”

Ravnsborg did not directly answer questions on whether he believes workplace sexual harassment is an issue in South Dakota’s law enforcement agencies.

“I’m not for any kind of cover-up or corruption of any kind,” Ravnsborg said. “I will address it as I find it. I encourage people, if they think something is going wrong with our government at whatever level, to please notify my office and we’ll take a look at it if it’s appropriate” [Mearhoff, 2019.09.05].

We’ll take a look at it if it’s appropriate—not exactly Leviathan roaring.


  1. Rhonda 2019-09-09 14:53

    If Ravnsborg wants to keep his promise to tackle any government corruption he should have stepped in and allowed all new evidence. The officers that were there in support of Elsen were not allowed to speak freely. The hearing officer stopped them and struck their words from the transcript repeatedly. They also would not look at all new documents. This group knows what went on here, but they are saving face at all costs.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-09 18:13

    Rhonda if you have new documents that add to the public understanding of what happened in Marshall County and in this hearin/decertification process, e-mail them to me so I can share them with our readers.

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