In 1849, the Dakota County was created as part of the original nine counties in Minnesota. The population at that time was more than 1,000 Native Americans and 149 white settlers. In 1853, A.R. French was appointed as the first Sheriff of Dakota County.
Citizens in Dakota County felt a need for a county jail, even before they felt the need to build a courthouse. Construction on the jail began in 1870. Construction of the courthouse began one year later, in 1871.
When the United States began to motorize, deputies could be seen patrolling the county on motorcycles as well as automobiles.
The 1930s was an era of change in the county — marked by violence and organized crime activity. These changes were felt by the law enforcement community with the murder of Deputy Rudolph Fischer at the jail by a burglar he had earlier arrested. Leo Pavlak, a South St. Paul officer, was killed by a member of the notorious Ma Barker Gang. Deputies and the Hastings Police Chief chased John Dillinger's vehicle over the Spiral Bridge. One of Dillinger's gang members was killed by a Hastings police officer.
Dakota County has grown to be the third most heavily populated county in the state, following Hennepin and Ramsey counties. It is the fastest growing county (numerically) in the State of Minnesota. The Dakota County Sheriff's Office has grown to include nearly 200 employees.
Dakota County Sheriffs
|C.L. "Chuck" Cherry||1954–1974|
|Joseph J. Heinen||1934–1938|
|J. F. Newton||1877–1883|
|Issac M. Ray||1859–1863|
|F.J. Barlett||1853–1855 (first election)|
|Alpheus R. French||Appointed April 26, 1853|