Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt brings empathy to policing 

A woman speaks at the podium
Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt is the first woman and first person of color to hold the office. She's pictured at a press conference after her election at Minneapolis City Hall on in Nov. 2022.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt grew up in south Minneapolis, just a block from where George Floyd was murdered.  She took an unusual — and inspiring — path to her election this past November as the first Black woman to become a sheriff in Minnesota.  

Two people sit in a radio studio
MPR News host Angela Davis, left, and Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt on Thursday.
Maja Beckstrom | MPR News

Witt was a teen mother and in the social work field before deciding on a whim to apply for a deputy job at the Hennepin County Jail. Her childhood hardship and early mistrust of police shape her approach to policing at a time when trust is strained between law enforcement and communities of color. 

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with Sheriff Witt about her background and how law enforcement can repair relationships with the communities they serve.  


  • Dawanna Witt was sworn in as Hennepin County Sheriff in January, 2023. She has worked for more than 23 years in law enforcement. She’s also an adjunct professor at Inver Groves Community College.  

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