BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)— “Not everybody might know their representatives.
Not everybody might know, you know, other elected positions, but it seems like everybody knows who the sheriff is and so [it] comes with a lot of responsibility,” Burleigh County Sheriff Kelly Leben said.
The Bismarck native and Army veteran says he knew at a young age either a military or law enforcement career would be for him. His father and other family members served our nation.
Though he says he learned a lot in the oldest branch of the military, he wasn’t keen on the constant travel. When he returned to North Dakota, he thought back to what would often grab his attention. “As a little kid, I would walk past the jail and this old building that was here at the time and it just always intrigued me,” Leben said.
That intrigue was realized when he was hired by then-Burleigh County Sheriff Bob Harvey.
Sheriff Leben says he owes Harvey a lot and remembers what he instilled in him and his colleagues. “We’re here to serve the public and that’s something I can say, truly, our culture still carries on today,” Leben explained.
Elected sheriff in 2018 and re-elected in 2022, Leben knows all about carrying on that culture.
He’s been with the sheriff’s department for 33 years and says he’s worked just about every position in the department. He’s also very aware of to whom he has to answer. “People will call me or call the department and ask to speak to the sheriff and many times when I answer the phone, they’re surprised,” Leben said. “And they’re like: ‘I didn’t think I’d get to speak to the sheriff. And I always tell them and I’m not, in a joking way, I always say: ‘Well, you’re my boss.’
There are plenty of challenging days for the sheriff, but he tries to keep a smile on his face.
He says he gets a lot of help. “I’m fortunate. I’ve got a very supportive wife [who] understands the profession. She grew up in a law enforcement family. Our children grew up, they’re very supportive. Leben says public support helps too, but even when not everyone’s happy, he’s still got a job to do. “Yeah. There’s [sic] times I may not agree with a cause, but we’re here to keep everybody safe and keep the peace. I’ve got the best job in the world,” Leben said.
As to another term as sheriff, Leben says he knows he’s not getting any younger, but as long as he’s got the energy, he’d consider running again. Sheriff Leben says the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department is still hiring. He urges North Dakotans to consider a law enforcement career.
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