Troy Dunn

Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn, right, chats with then County Commissioner Jake Gillen in January 2020. Dunn announced his retirement Tuesday after more than 33 years with the Sheriff’s Office. (File photo/

For more than three decades, Troy Dunn has asked his loved ones to sacrifice for his job and the people he’s served.

It’s time, Dunn says, to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction.

On Tuesday, the Rice County Board of Commissioners unanimously, but reluctantly, accepted Dunn’s retirement. His last day will be Friday, Nov. 12.

Dunn plans to move out of state, a relocation he says, that will accommodate his wife Tara’s job.

“Many times in this job family has had to take second place. It’s time for family to take first place again,” he said, referring to the nights, weekend and holiday work as well as the emergency calls that interrupted plans. “The sacrifices my wife, my siblings and my son have (made) over the years … This is the right thing to do.”

Commissioner Dave Miller said that he wanted to vote no on the motion, but knew this was something the longtime sheriff wanted.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with you, Troy, said Commissioner Jeff Docken. “You are very compassionate, yet know how to do your job. … You will be missed, not just by this board, but by the citizens of Rice County.”

Dunn, who grew up in Rice County, started his career with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department. He later joined the Kenyon Police Department before moving back home and becoming a Rice County Sheriff’s deputy. In 2018, he was elected without opposition to his third term as sheriff, which he said would be his last.

But life had something different in mind. Dunn says he and his wife made the decision for him to retire together, and he’s at peace with it.

The next step, said County Administrator Sara Folsted, is for her and the county’s Human Resources Department to recommend a replacement. The timing of the retirement means that person will serve the remainder of Dunn’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2022. Dunn will also recommend his successor, and has already publicly endorsed his chief deputy, Jesse Thomas.

Thomas, also a Rice County native, and a Bethlehem Academy graduate with 25 years at the Rice County Sheriff’s Office, indicated earlier this year that someday he’d like to be the county’s sheriff.

Dunn, whose pet projects include traffic safety and reducing domestic violence, has no plans for his retirement, but says he’d like to look for something part time once he gets settled, just to keep him busy and socially engaged. He insists that he won’t be a stranger, and will be back to visit family and friends.

“I’m looking forward to being a little more anonymous,” he said, “golfing and biking and seeing what the next chapter brings.”

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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