History of Sheriff's Office
Ai G. Apgar1853 - 1856
In 1828, Ai G. Apgar was born into a farming family in New York. When he was in his early 20s, Ai, along with his wife, parents and several siblings moved to Minnesota and made property claims in Scott County. Ai, his older brother Daniel and younger brother Milo married three sisters from the Dimon family (also from New York) - Daniel married Minerva, Ai married Phebe, and Milo married Diana “Jeannette” Dimon. The families settled in Shakopee.
In 1853, Scott County was organized into one election precinct and territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey appointed Ai G. Apgar the first Sheriff of Scott County and his brother Daniel the Justice of the Peace and Judge of Probate. Their father, Samuel Apgar, was also an election judge at the first election held in 1853.
After Sheriff Apgar's term ended, he soon moved to the proposed village of Hennepin (present day Eden Prairie). He purchased what was originally the first store in town that served as both a store and hotel. He kept open the hotel but closed the store, and it continued this way until it was destroyed in 1867. Apgar returned to farming and died in 1877 at the age of 49.
George Phillips and his brother Martin Phillips, printed the 2nd newspaper in Scott County, the "Valley Herald," for three years. George was also the official City Printer for the City of Shakopee. George Phillips was elected the 2nd Scott County Sheriff in 1857. Shakopee was incorporated as a city in 1857 and shortly thereafter, Minnesota was admitted in the Union as the 32nd U.S state on May 11, 1958.
Frank McGrade was born in 1830 in Ireland and moved to the United States in 1855 after serving for 3 years in the Irish Army. During a time of national chaos, McGrade was elected Sheriff in 1861. The Civil War had just begun and the Dakota Sioux War soon broke out in Minnesota in 1862. In 1864, McGrade enlisted to join General Sibley’s 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry and was commissioned 1st Lieutenant in Company "L" of the 2nd Minnesota Calvary.
Because of his army responsibilities, McGrade employed a deputy (possibly Jacob Thomas) during most of the latter part of his term. Sheriff McGrade was discharged from the Army at Fort Snelling in 1866. In 1867 he was elected Scott County Register of Deeds and also served as a Scott County Commissioner for three years and as a member of the Shakopee City Council from 1874 until his death in 1876.
Jacob Thomas was born in France in 1832 where he lived until he was three. Thomas then moved to Germany and remained there until he was eleven, receiving his education there. He emigrated to the United States in 1843 and spent thirteen years in Dubuque, Iowa employed as a farm laborer and in a store and mill. While in Dubuque, he married Mary McLean from Ireland and had many children. He also worked in a mine at Cascade, Iowa for two years and ran a restaurant until 1856, when he moved his family to Minnesota.
After spending one year in St. Paul the family moved to Belle Plaine and again worked as a farmer. He eventually moved to Shakopee and in 1867 was elected Sheriff of Scott County and remained in office until 1873. During Sheriff’s Thomas’ term as Sheriff, Belle Plaine was incorporated as a borough in 1868 and Shakopee was re-incorporated in 1870.
Dennis Flaherty was born in 1837 in County Cork, Ireland. He emigrated to the United States and married Mary Ann Gorham from Galway, Ireland (who also happened to work as a servant to Judge Daniel Apgar in 1860). Newspapers of the time said that he "died suddenly of paralysis of the brain" in 1893 at age 55. The newspaper also noted that "when he engaged in a general merchandise business, which he followed up to the time of his death, at all times holding a prominent place in business circles and a recognized leadership among the Irish of the vicinity."
Dennis Flaherty's daughter, Mary, married his business partner, John C. Lies, and together built the building (pictured) at the northwest corner of First Avenue and Lewis Street in downtown Shakopee in 1899. The upper part was used for apartments and offices and the main floor was the "Flaherty & Lies" general store.
Theodore Weiland was a prominent and highly esteemed resident and citizen by the local community and held many positions of trust and responsibility.
In about 1869, Weiland moved to Jordan, MN from his native Wisconsin where he was employed on a farm and later opened a carriage and wagon shop. In 1876, he was elected Marshal of the village of Jordan, holding this office until 1879 when he was elected Sheriff of Scott County. He held the office of Sheriff for ten years. Soon after his last term as Sheriff, he was elected Mayor of Shakopee and held the office for four years. In 1890, Sheriff Weiland bought “Reis Block” from George Reis, a venerable commercial building that long stood at the center of Shakopee’s downtown district that also housed an opera house. He ran a flour and feed store during his possession of this property as well.
While serving as Sheriff, Hilgers gained an enviable record as a fearless enforcer of the law. Of the most dangerous and exciting of Hilger’s law enforcement experiences was in 1895 when he went after two heavily armed robbers at Merriam Junction. The two men swung onto the back end of a freight train and Sheriff Hilgers caught the caboose right after them. One of the men fired at Sheriff Hilgers, shooting him in the face. Despite loss of blood from the wound, Sheriff Hilgers was able to make it to Shakopee where a doctor extracted the bullet and treated the wound. The Sheriff, as the story goes, went about afterwards as if nothing had happened, catching and jailing the bad guys in the end.
After his term ended in 1900, Hilgers purchase a half interest in the Jordan Brewery and it was renamed Schutz and Hilgers City Brewery. The brewery flourished into World War I, until the United States began restricting the alcohol content in beer, and was forced to close in 1920 at the onset of Prohibition. During Prohibition, Schutz and Hilgers maintained ownership of the brewery and rented the main building to Cedar Lawn Hatchery, which used the space as a chicken hatchery. In 1933, the passage of the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition - and Schutz and Hilgers eagerly returned to the business of brewing beer.
Frank Wagener was born in Belle Plaine in 1860. His parents were both from Luxembourg and his father worked as a store clerk when Frank was young. Frank Wagener worked as a policeman until he was elected Scott County Sheriff in 1901. After his term as Sheriff ended in 1908, he appointed Borough Marshal for Belle Plaine for a number of terms and worked as a policeman into his 70s. By age 80, he took a less stressful job as a “meter racker.” Wagener lived out the rest of his life in Belle Plaine until his death in 1947.
Known for taking his duties in stride and keeping a high regard on "getting his man," Sheriff Kopp had many colorful events during his years of service. In January of 1911, when he was asked by the Omaha Railway officials to go to Merriam Junction and "take a crazy man." Sheriff Kopp had been down the line on other business and was returning on the 6:00 PM evening train. When he arrived in Merriam Junction, Sheriff Kopp went to the depot and found a big, burly man armed with pockets full of brickbat, holding a bar of steel in one hand and a chunk of coal in the other. There were no other patrons in the depot, having all been frightened away.
Sheriff Kopp jumped the man and wrestled him down. However, the man's wrists were so large, the Sheriff couldn't get handcuffs on him. Keeping a cool head during a desperate struggle, Sheriff Kopp was eventually able to secure the man with ropes. It was later determined that the "crazy" man had merely been under the influence of alcohol. After spending a few days in jail, Sheriff Kopp bought the man a train ticket home to Minneapolis advising him not to return to Scott County.
Joseph Casper Weckman
The first and only Scott County Sheriff to die while still in office was Joseph Weckman, who held office from 1923 until his death in 1931. He worked as Sheriff in full capacity until approximately four weeks prior to his death during his third term of office.
During his tenure, Sheriff Weckman had his share of dangerous calls. On December 9, 1929, three men entered the First National Bank in Shakopee and robbed it. Sheriff Weckman, with the help of others, was able to capture the suspects after a furious gun battle. All three men survived and, even though there as a hail of gunshots fired by both the robbers and law enforcement, no one else on Shakopee’s main street was injured. Several cars along the street were hit and as the story goes, an aged Civil War veteran raced up Lewis Street in horse and buggy shouting, “The bank is being held up! Everybody out, get out your guns!”
Arthur F. Mesenbrink1931-1941
Mesenbrink was appointed by Scott County Commissioners in 1931 to fill the remaining term of Joseph Weckman. Mesenbrink served as Sheriff until October 1941. In July of 1941, Governor Stassen issued an order to remove Mesenbrink from office. This order came as a result of a proceeding instigated by Rev. Olson of Jordan, charging Sheriff Mesenbrink with failure to enforce the gambling laws of Scott County. The governor held that Sheriff Mesenbrink allowed “open, flagrant and notorious” violation of Minnesota’s gambling laws. Mesenbrink died in 1971 at the age of 80.
J.P. (John Peter, also known as "Jack") Wermerskirchen was born in Helena Township, Scott County in 1892. He came from a farming family and continued to farm throughout his lifetime. He served in the U.S Army and married Clara Radermacher from New Market village. He served as a Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff Arthur Mesenbrink for 10 years. Upon Mesenbrink’s forced removal from office J.P. Wermerskirchen was appointed acting Sheriff by the County Board.
During the following months, he increased efforts to close down the illegal gambling that had been going on in Shakopee for many years. In 1942, 35 slot machines were seized by Sheriff Wermerskirchen, netting the county treasury department $1,200. The Sheriff announced that there were no more slot machines in Shakopee for the first time in 25 years. Wermerskirchen died in 1986 at the age of 93.
Wilmer "Rip" B. Schroeder1951-1970
From professional baseball player and internationally known prized pigeon breeder to Sheriff. During his 20-year term, Schroeder promoted professionalism in law enforcement, not only in Scott County, but also throughout Minnesota.
In 1953 Schroeder was elected president of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association. Sheriff Schroeder was responsible for modernizing the Sheriff's Office in many ways, including purchasing the first marked patrol car, implemented uniforms for deputies and himself (which made Scott County the first Minnesota County outside a metropolitan area to have uniformed sheriff’s deputies), oversaw the building of the Scott County Public Safety Building in 1959, purchased a patrol boat, and started a radio dispatch headquarters for Scott and Carver Counties.
Although receiving numerous honors and awards in law enforcement and civic contributions, among his friends, Rip was known as “Giant of the Pigeon World”. Schroeder died in 1986 at the age of 77.
Robert "Bob" Moody served as an investigator during Rip Schroeder’s terms and had many of the same professional standards and beliefs as Schroeder. Moody was known as being very service oriented, anxious to continue Schroeder’s tradition of a modern and qualified Sheriff’s Office. Having highly trained staff was important to Sheriff Moody. While he was Sheriff, all the road deputies were Emergency Medical Technicians and squads were equipped with first aid and rescue equipment.
Scott County was one of the leaders in this concept, since having peace officers do more than fight crime was a relatively new idea to the law enforcement community. He welcomed the public for tours of the Sheriff’s Office, hoping to educate citizens and promote better relations. In addition to his duties as Scott County Sheriff, Moody also served on the Metropolitan Sheriff’s Association board. In 1972, Sheriff Moody equipped the Sheriff’s Office with a “sno-cruiser” sled to be used for winter emergency rescue. Moody is credited for initiating the Sheriff’s Office crime scene unit and also an improved radio communications system. These improvements helped solve serious crimes Scott County was experiencing at the time, such as the Bonner murder case in 1977.
During his term, Doug Tietz and his staff experienced probably the most stressful and tremulous years in the history of the Sheriff’s Office. Crimes during this period include the Richard Melony/Timothy Weierke murder case, the William Golla/Harry Golla murder case, an interstate agribusiness crime involving stolen chemicals, the Cermak family criminal sexual conduct cases and the Jordan criminal sexual conduct cases.
In addition to these highly publicized high profile cases, Tietz lost a valuable member of his investigative staff. In March 1983, Detective George Lill died from a heart attack while off duty. Through his experience and education, Lill had become a specialist in domestic violence and child abuse investigation. Through Lill's hard work and dedication as the principle investigator in the murder of William Golla and in the Cermak family sex abuse cases, convictions were obtained.
William "Bill" Nevin was also a progressive and service oriented administrator. The Sheriff’s Office grew in many areas under his guidance. A few accomplishments during his tenure include:
- D.A.R.E program
- Electronic Home Monitoring system
- Jail Annex
- Juvenile Alternative Facility
- Maintaining leadership in major crime clearance rates in the metropolitan area
- Mobile data terminals and video systems in the county squads
- Mounted Reserve Unit
- Neighborhood Watch program,
- Road spike system for fleeing vehicles
- Special Response Team
Sheriff Dave Menden was the 17th Scott County Sheriff. While Sheriff Menden served, the new Law Enforcement Center was built, including a much needed and improved jail facility.
At the beginning of Sheriff Menden's term, Minnesota passed the Citizen's Personal Protection Act, which made it easier for citizens to obtain permits to carry handguns. This new legislation led to multiple changes within the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Menden also led in the creation of our first office newsletter, the "Five Points of the Star," and played on integral part in youth programs such as Youth Firearms Training and the Catfish Derby. After serving as Sheriff, Dave Menden continued to serve the people of Scott County as a Commissioner.
Kevin Studnicka2007 - 2016
Kevin Studnicka was the 18th Scott County Sheriff. Sheriff Studnicka led a push to use technology to improve efficiency and communications at the Sheriff's Office.
Some accomplishments during Sheriff Studnicka's tenure include upgrades to 800mHz radios, increasing court security through the use of metal detectors, improving statistical data and reporting, and entering the world of social media.
2016 - present
Luke Hennen was appointed as the 19th Scott County Sheriff on May 26, 2016, following Sheriff Studnicka’s retirement.
At the beginning of Sheriff Hennen’s term, some of the primary issues facing Scott County were mental health and the opioid epidemic. Sheriff Hennen began working on committees to address the lack of mental health resources in our county, which led to the formation of the Scott County Mobile Crisis Response team in 2018. Sheriff Hennen also began requiring all patrol deputies to be certified in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) as a way to better respond to citizens experiencing mental health crises. To counteract overdoses, Narcan (Naloxone) was issued to deputies. Sheriff Hennen also continues to be a strong supporter of the Scott County Treatment (drug) Court that was implemented in 2016.
New positions in the Sheriff’s Office were created based on the current needs of the county. Community outreach is important to Sheriff Hennen, and in 2016; he created an assignment of Community Engagement Deputy. This deputy serves a role of engaging and building relationships of trust between law enforcement and all of our communities.
Sheriff Hennen continues a tradition of collaboration and coordination between the Sheriff’s Office and our local police departments. In 2018, he created a position to provide computer and cell phone examinations to assist investigations throughout the county.