Biographies of Past Sheriffs
Crow Wing County was established as a county on May 23, 1857 and organized on March 3, 1870. Below are short biographies on most of the past Crow Wing County Sheriff's and some information about the second Crow Wing County Jail.
Todd O. Dahl
2007 to 2018
Sheriff Dahl is a Crow Wing County native who was born in Crosby and raised in Brainerd. He began his law enforcement career as a part-time water patrol deputy and was hired full-time in 1987. He served in many roles including Boat and Water sergeant and patrol sergeant before being elected Sheriff in 2006. Sheriff Dahl served 3 terms until retiring in 2018. Todd felt very fortunate to be able to work for the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office for his entire career.
2003 to 2006
Sheriff Klang grew up in Hermantown, MN before moving to Crow Wing County in 1990, where he started his law enforcement career. He began as a drug operative for the Heartland Drug Task Force (Net 6 Drug Task Force) and later joined the Patrol Division. He was elected Sheriff in 2002 and served 1 term. Eric continued working at the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office until July 2011 when he went on to become the Police Chief for the Pequot Lakes Police Department.
Richard O. "Dick" Ross
1991 to 2002
Sheriff Ross was a Crosby High School graduate. In 1960, he started his law enforcement career as a police officer in Ironton before becoming a deputy with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office in 1962. He was elected Sheriff in 1991, and retired in 2002, with 42 years of service in law enforcement. Throughout his career with the Sheriff's Office, he has also served as a jailor, sergeant, captain, and chief deputy (12 years).
Frank R. Ball
1987 to 1990
Sheriff Ball served 1 term as Sheriff and then went on to become Chief of Police for the Brainerd Police Department. Prior to being elected sheriff, Ball served four years in the United States Army, was an officer for the Nisswa Police Department and Chief Investigator for the Sheriff's Office. Frank later retired and continues to live in the Brainerd lakes area.
Charles E. Warnberg
1962 to 1986
Sheriff Warnberg began his career with Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office in 1951 as a bookkeeper. He served as Chief Deputy for 6 years under Sheriffs Wickland and Krueger prior to being elected Sheriff. In 1962, Sheriff Krueger was the only candidate on the ballot, but died unexpectedly before the election, so Warnberg and another candidate got the 1,000 signatures needed to be on the ballot. Warnberg served as Sheriff for 24 years, the longest ever in Crow Wing County. Sheriff Ball said "Sheriff Warnberg was revered by all."
Albert J. Krueger
1958 to 1962
According to Sheriff Warnberg, "Al Krueger was the best Sheriff we ever had." Sheriff Krueger began his law enforcement career in 1940 as a sheriff's deputy. In 1942 he entered the United States Army and served three years in the South Pacific before returning to the sheriff's office as a deputy. He was the last Sheriff to live in the old jail complex. Sheriff Krueger had 1 brother who was a highway patrol officer and another brother that was a game warden in Perham, Minnesota.
1939 to 1958
At 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 350 pounds, Sheriff Wickland was the biggest Sheriff ever in Crow Wing County. Prior to becoming Sheriff, Wickland was a machinist for the Northern Pacific Railroad and operated a grocery store. He had a bloodhound named Prince. After his retirement in 1959, he served as a bailiff for Crow Wing County.
George A. Ridley
1936 to 1938
Sheriff Ridley was a deputy at the time of Frank Little's death in 1936 and he finished the remainder of Little's term. Ridley served as chief of police in Ironton prior to becoming the Sheriff of Crow Wing County. He also worked as a police officer with Brainerd Police Department.
Franklin E. Little
1931 to 1936
Sheriff Little’s son, Bud Little, was the last Brainerd man to be killed in World War II. Sheriff Little worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad and as the mayor of Brainerd prior to becoming Sheriff.
Claus A. Theorin
1916 to 1922 / 1927 to 1930
Sheriff Theorin was a deputy for 7 years prior to becoming Sheriff in 1916 (serving an 8-year term) and then again in 1927 (serving a 4-year term). It was during Theorin's term that the second Crow Wing County Jail and Sheriff's Residence was built (pictured below).
Fred J. Reid
1909 to 1915 / 1923 to 1926
Sheriff Reid was a deputy for Crow Wing County for 8 years prior to becoming Sheriff. Prior to law enforcement, Sheriff Reid worked as a farmer, road contractor, supervisor and foreman of a logging camp. After serving his elected term as sheriff, Reid served as chief deputy under Sheriffs Frank Little and George Ridley. He moved to Minneapolis after retiring from Crow Wing County.
Ole P. Erickson
1897 to 1908
Unfortunately, nothing is known about Sheriff's Erickson's time in office.
1888 to 1896
Sheriff Spalding was unanimously appointed Crow Wing County Sheriff by the Crow Wing County Commissioners to fill the remaining term of Sheriff McLaren when he resigned. Prior to becoming sheriff, Spalding was a popular railroad conductor.
1887 to 1888
Sheriff McLaren resigned as Crow Wing County Sheriff on February 7, 1888, after it was discovered that he was born in Canada and was not a United States citizen.
1880 to 1886
Sheriff Mertz was a colorful, daring and enterprising sheriff. In 1891 he was elected Chief of Police by the city council of Spokane, Washington and served until 1895.
George W. Whitney
1876 to 1879
Unfortunately, nothing is known about Sheriff Whitney's time in office.
Arthur F. McKay
1874 to 1875
Sheriff McKay was engaged in contracting and building prior to becoming sheriff. He was also the Sheriff of Swift County for two years.
John "Jack" Gurrell
1872 to 1873
Sheriff Gurrell was in control of the first county jail built in Brainerd. Prior to moving to Crow Wing County, Gurrell was the Sheriff of Carlton County. He had an extended experience as an officer of the law, principally in the country west of the Missouri River.
ca 1871 to 1871
Unfortunately, nothing is known of Sheriff Depew other than he is listed in the historical records of the Crow Wing County Historical Society as the Sheriff of Crow Wing County for at least part of 1871.
ca 1871 to 1871
Sheriff Dressen had been a non-commissioned officer at Fort Ripley for several years prior to becoming Crow Wing County Sheriff. He leased a hotel and operated a barbershop following his time as Sheriff.
ca 1870 to 1871
Sheriff Wade held several positions of trust in the community; among them he was the first [sic] Sheriff of Crow Wing County.
William W. McArthur
ca 1865 to 1870
Unfortunately, nothing is known about Sheriff McArthur's time in office.
The "1917 Jail" was to be one of the most modern in the state; the structure, measuring 50 x 100 feet, two stories high, was to contain a twenty-cell jail in the back and Sheriff's residence in the front. The value of this building was estimated at $28,000. This building became the home to the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum in 1982.
Six sheriffs and their families lived in the residence between its construction and 1962. Sheriff Krueger, who died while in office, was the last sheriff to reside here. That year the new Sheriff Warnberg decided not to move into the house and the residence became the sheriff's offices. The Sheriff's Office moved into the current building in 1979.
Photo courtesy of the Crow Wing County Historical Society.