Former sheriff recognized for helping to build jail

Ralph W. “Buster” Talbot accomplished a lot while he was the Anoka County Sheriff from 1960 to 1986.

Left to right: Anoka County Commissioner Dan Erhart, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, former Anoka County Sheriff Ralph W. “Buster” Talbot, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart and Anoka County Administrator Jerry Soma stand by the commemorative plaque. Photo by Eric Hagen

Left to right: Anoka County Commissioner Dan Erhart, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, former Anoka County Sheriff Ralph W. “Buster” Talbot, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart and Anoka County Administrator Jerry Soma stand by the commemorative plaque. Photo by Eric Hagen

One of the achievements he oversaw during his time was the construction of the current Anoka County Jail.

On Nov. 8, family, friends and others who wanted to pay tribute to the longest-tenured sheriff of the county helped to unveil a commemorative plaque outside the jail.

“I appreciate all you people here. It’s very humbling,” Talbot said.

The Anoka County Jail opened in September 1983, just three years before Talbot left office.

One of Talbot’s sons, Rev. Ralph Talbot, remembers visiting the old jail to see his father and peddle chocolate to his staff after he was done for the day at the nearby St. Stephen’s Catholic School.

While he was there, he heard the clanking of jail cells closing.

After the new jail opened, Rev. Talbot recalled a letter his father received from a former inmate who appreciated the good condition of the jail.

He said his father not only cared for his staff, but the people who were in jail and the affected families.

Rev. Talbot said it is good to recognize public officials who have dedicated their lives to helping citizens.

Even though his father has not been the sheriff since 1986, he continues to invest himself in the community that has really meant the world to him.

Anoka County Commissioner Dan Erhart recognized this contribution from a man who he calls a close friend, so he recommended naming the jail after Talbot.

Rhonda Sivarajah, chairperson of the Anoka County Board, was concerned about setting a precedent for naming a building after a public official considering the county has no written procedure to follow when a proposal is brought forward and there are other county officials who have had distinguished careers.

After some discussion, the county board tabled this item at its Aug. 14 meeting.

On Sept. 11, the board unanimously approved a resolution to commemorate the Anoka County Jail in honor of Talbot, but the name of the jail itself would not change.

Erhart, with “Buster” by his side, spoke how the former sheriff showed leadership during his tenure by getting many things done, including creating the countywide emergency radio system and starting up special operational units like the crime investigative and the ranger units.

During Talbot’s third term as sheriff between 1971 to 1974, the cities of East Bethel and Ham Lake along with Grow Township (the future city of Andover) signed their first contracts with the sheriff’s office for police protection services.

The sheriff’s office still has contracts with these three communities and has since added the communities of Bethel, Columbus, Linwood Township, Nowthen and Oak Grove.

“You brought collaboration to public service before it was hip, cool and trendy,” said the current Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart.

Talbot’s record as longest-tenured sheriff will not be broken by him and will likely stand for a long time, he said.

Stuart said the current sheriff’s office staff thanks Talbot for his service.

He also personally thanked Talbot for being a mentor and for the work Talbot did during his term.

According to Erhart, it is really unique to have a man who was has been out of public service for over 25 years still be on the tip of the tongues of so many who now work in local government.

Paul Young, head of the violent crimes division for the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, said “Buster’s” name was one of the first he heard when he started as a law clerk with the county attorney’s office in 1991.

Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said Talbot was one of the most non-judgmental people he knows and taught him a lot as a young lawyer and now as the county attorney.

The Anoka County Historical Society held a recognition dinner for Talbot Sept. 20 at the Courtyards of Andover that drew 500 people.

“This is awesome,” said Talbot’s nephew Mike Clark about the recognition his uncle has received. “It’s well deserved. He’s an amazing guy.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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