Rich’s Story

Rich has lived in Hennepin County, Minnesota for his entire life. He lives in Maple Grove with his wife of 31 years, and their two children.

As a boy, Rich lived in Nordeast, Minneapolis where the police officers from the Minneapolis Police Department became role models for him and other kids growing up in a tough neighborhood. Rich grew up with his six siblings in a second generation Polish-American family.  Rich’s father was a World War II hero and postal worker. He lived next door to a police officer whose dedication to service and community inspired Rich to become a police officer.

Rich earned his way through college at the University of Minnesota, and got his first job as a Minnesota licensed police officer in 1984. Rich worked as a street cop for decades. In 1986 while working as a Patrol Officer in North Minneapolis and taking 911 calls, he started the Minneapolis Police Athletic League (a police volunteer program for at-risk kids, providing positive role-modeling and mentorship). He worked double duty, taking tough shifts to also earn his Masters Degree in Public Administration from Hamline University in 1989, and to serve as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from Maple Grove for 9 years. He chaired the House Crime and Public Safety Committee for 6 years, and was then appointed by the Governor as Minnesota’s Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and Director of Homeland Security.

From 2004-2006, Rich returned to active police duty, and experienced first-hand how neighborhoods in Minneapolis had deteriorated:  gangs, drugs, guns and murder. As Commander of Criminal Investigations for the Minneapolis Police Department, he responded to nearly every homicide scene in Minneapolis in those years, and led 38 murder investigations just in the first half of 2006. He was also responsible for the investigations of other violent crimes: rape, assault, and robbery.

In 2006, with in the surge of violent crime in Minneapolis, Rich ran for Sheriff of Hennepin County.

Rich makes hundreds of appearances in the County every month; he has never rested — not for one day in the past 9 years — until he was confident that the Agency and he had done everything possible to make Hennepin County safe for all of our kids and all of our families.

And that is what Rich Stanek brings to the Office of Sheriff that is unique: a vision and mission for the Sheriff’s Office that is making a real difference in keeping our families, neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and places of worship safe.