Two candidates will be gunning for the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s badge in 2022

Joey Geiszler
Barry Fitzgibbons

Filing to challenge incumbent Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons is Joey Geiszler.

With only two candidates filing, they will not be on the August primary ballot—but will square off in the November general election.

Fitzgibbons filed for re-election in May. He was first elected in 2018, and is completing his first term. 

“Stop the revolving door” of repeat offenders is one of Geiszler’s campaign pledges. He aims to stem the trend of people “getting released without getting any help either mentally or morally,” he said. “Help our people that are battling demons and addiction find the right path, and to be productive in our communities again.”

In the same vein, he advocated legislation to help our communities with mental health issues. 

“Jail is not a place for some of these individuals and our jailers shouldn’t have to deal with some of the things they go through. That people be held accountable for their serious crimes committed with appropriate sentences,” said Geiszler, who added that he would “get with our legislators and discuss having a jury hand out sentencing after hearing recommendations from the defense and the state.”

A Fergus Falls police officer since 2010, Geiszler has been a training officer, detective, and special agent with the drug and violent crime task force; and currently is on patrol after coming out of the task force in 2016. 

During his patrolling, he has been able to engage in a positive manner with the public, businesses, and children to show that “officers are approachable.” Geiszler has been with the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association, handling line of duty officer funerals, as well as training officers from departments throughout the state and the nation. 

An Army veteran, Geiszler said he has carried out a thousand missions, including funeral services at Arlington as a full honors casket member; presidential, retirement, foreign dignitary, and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown. 

He served with the United States Army Reserve in Military Intelligence, attended Military Intelligence School at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. 

He attended Police Academy with the Metropolitan police academy, and served in Washington D.C. as a patrolman with the Metropolitan police department. 

During his time in D.C., he responded to hundreds of calls that included murder/homicide scenes, arson, violent assaults, and armed robberies, among many others.

“D.C had an average of more then 600,000 calls a year, while I worked there, for just shy of 2,000,000 calls during my years there,” noted Geiszler. 

As a candidate for Otter Tail’s top lawman post, he advocates outreach and education for the communities and the individuals themselves who may be involved in human trafficking. 

Mental health and well-being programs for sheriff’s department employees to have time away will be a focus of his campaign, noting that officers need time away from the job to refocus and get refreshed. 

Prior to being elected sheriff, incumbent Fitzgibbons held the positions of Patrol Deputy, Patrol Sergeant, Operations Lieutenant, Administrative Lieutenant, and Chief Deputy. 

In addition, he served 13 years as a member of the Otter Tail County Public Safety Dive Team and 15 years as a member of the Otter Tail County SWAT team, where he served as the commander.