Police recognize bravery, extraordinary service

Police Chief Janeé Harteau recently honored several Police Department employees for their exceptional service. By risking their lives for the safety of others, taking down theft rings, saving lives and more, these employees earned these honors for keeping the city and its people safe. See the full list of award recipients. Watch a short video recap of the ceremony.

Medal of Valor

Officer Mark Lanasa
Officer Steven Lecy

A shootout took place Downtown during bar close Sept. 12 in the middle of hundreds of people and almost two dozen police officers. Security cameras recorded the heroic actions of two brave officers who caught the shooters that night.

One suspect fired a gun several times in a sweeping motion in the direction of Officer Mark Lanasa and dozens of other people in the area. Lanasa gave chase down an alley, quickly catching and apprehending the suspect.

Meanwhile, a second shooting suspect ran in the opposite direction. The cameras clearly show Officer Steven Lecy, who was working on the Police Department’s Bicycle Rapid Response Team, ride right into the gunfire, chasing the second suspect. It is obvious based on the footage that the suspect would have gotten away had Officer Lecy not chased him. Following the arrest, the loaded gun was found in the suspect’s waistband.

This was a tough night for Minneapolis, but the silver lining could be found watching two heroes in uniform rush toward gunfire to make sure more people weren’t hurt.

Officer Benjamin Henrich

Officer Ben Henrich was a member of the DEA Task Force in 2014 when he took on one of the most difficult searches an officer can face: a search for a suspect who had just shot and killed a police officer. Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick had just been shot and killed.

Henrich was part of a team looking for the suspect. On learning the suspect’s location, Henrich and the team quickly arrived at an address in Saint Paul. After a short vehicle chase, the team cornered the suspect in a parking lot. The suspect opened fire and Henrich returned fire from his position.

Henrich put himself in harm’s way, chasing after a dangerous man who had already shot and killed a brother in blue. He was an integral part of the team that brought justice to a grieving family and a hurting community. He was heroic and brave in one of the toughest circumstances imaginable.

Officer William Gregory

Last April, Officer Gregory was on his way to an off-duty job on the North Side when he heard the announcement of a shooting on his radio. Knowing he was within a few blocks of the incident, he noticed two male suspects running from the area. He ordered them to stop, they took off, and Officer Gregory gave chase.

The next call over the radio alerted all officers that two men in a sport utility vehicle had been shot and killed. At this point, Gregory knew he was chasing two armed murder suspects without backup. While he could no longer see one of the suspects, the officer was only about 10 feet away from the second suspect when he saw him pull out a handgun, throw it over a fence and continue fleeing. He didn’t get far. Gregory swiftly arrested the man.

When more officers arrived, Gregory retrieved the gun thrown over the fence and retraced the other suspect’s tracks to find a second gun. Gregory’s excellent description of the second suspect was quickly sent on to other law enforcement officers, and the suspect was caught on camera on a Metro Transit bus. He was quickly arrested.

While this was a brutal slaying that concerned members of the community, right away they knew the murder suspects had been taken off the streets thanks to Officer Gregory’s observations, courageous actions, speed and endurance.

Sgt. Kent Warnberg
Officer Sokhom Klann
Officer Michael Norris

Domestic assault calls are some of the most difficult ones an officer can take. When Officers Sokhom Klann, Michael Norris and Sgt. Kent Warnberg arrived at a 5th Precinct home last year, they knew they were looking for a man with a history of threats of violence against his family. Before the officers arrived, the suspect had ripped the phone cord out of the wall as one of his victims was calling 911 then locked himself in the garage and told one of his children that he would douse himself with gasoline and light himself on fire if they called police.

Officer Norris smelled smoke and saw flames while peering into a garage window. He notified Officer Klann, a certified crisis intervention trained officer, who kicked in the door and found the man holding a three-gallon gas can with a large flame coming out of its spout. Without regard for his own safety, Klann kicked the gas can out of the man’s hand and dragged him out of the garage. Sgt. Warnberg started grabbing boards that were already on fire and removed them from the garage before the entire structure could go up in flames. The Fire Department arrived moments later and put the fire out.

Had this trio not responded and reacted the way they did, the man would have likely died from exposure to fire or smoke inhalation. They were observant, quick, heroic, courageous and selfless, and they saved a man’s life.

Life Saving Awards

Sgt. Katie Blackwell

On Aug. 6, a guest at a downtown hotel produced a handgun and pointed it at two employees, who fled. Shortly after, the man fired two shots inside his hotel room. The hotel was full, as hundreds of journalists were there attending a conference.

Tactical and SWAT officers responded, and the man barricaded himself in his room for 3.5 hours. He had been a corrections officer for 22 years and his dad was a former law enforcement officer, so he had knowledge of police negotiation tactics. Sgt. Blackwell was forced to think outside the box. She texted encouraging messages when verbal communication was shut off and ultimately talked the man out of his room before a loaded handgun was recovered.

Remaining patient under intense pressure is crucial for officers in crises. Later, the barricaded man told police he had a gun to his head throughout the 3.5 hours and that the sergeant gave him “the right words at the right times.” He also noted that she planted the names of his children into his mind, which weighed heavily into his decision to come out of the hotel room without harming himself.

Sgt. Anne Moryc

When Sgt. Anne Moryc arrived at the 10th Avenue Bridge during an overnight shift last June, a female was threatening to jump and officers were having a hard time building a rapport with her. Sgt. Moryc immediately gained the woman’s trust after empathizing with her situation. Over the course of the conversation, officers learned the person was physically drained and likely didn’t have enough power to get back over the fence.

Sgt. Moryc was focused on the individual who needed help, not on her own safety. She jumped up onto a thin concrete ledge. There was an unstable fence between her and the woman. The sergeant grabbed her, now holding on to her two hands for dear life. Other officers grabbed Sgt. Moryc and steadied her while more responding officers cut the fence and finally helped the woman to safety. The woman collapsed from her exhaustion, but she was able to thank Sgt. Moryc for saving her life. This was a physically and emotionally taxing, life-saving situation for everyone involved.

Officer Sherry Appledorn
Officer William Gregory

Officers Sherry Appledorn and Will Gregory were in the right spot at the right time on April 20, 2015. Officer Gregory was working off duty at Pizza Lucé downtown when an intoxicated and belligerent man punched his fist through a large glass window. Gregory saw the man bleeding profusely as blood spurted from his arm. The man had no idea he had severed his brachial artery and that he was in danger of bleeding to death. Officer Gregory did know his life was in danger as he struggled with him while simultaneously applying a towel to his injured arm.

Officer Appledorn had just gotten off work and was walking by when she noticed her colleague struggling with the man. Not only was she in the right spot, but she had the right tool. She pulled out her tourniquet and applied it to the intoxicated man’s arm.

Officer Troy Carlson
Officer John Haugland

Officers Troy Carlson and John Haugland responded to a “damage to property” call 13 months ago. They met with the caller, who claimed her personal care attendant had broken into her home and assaulted her. As they were running the suspect’s name in their squad car, the caller came out to tell them there were alarms going off inside her building.

The lower level of the building was filling up quickly with smoke. The officers searched and cleared the level while calling a 911 dispatcher about the fire. After taking in a lot of smoke, Officer Carlson found the door leading to the upper unit. He climbed the stairs and pounded on the door, telling the woman who answered that she needed to leave her apartment immediately. She quickly explained her two children and dog were still in the apartment. Officers Carlson and Haugland rescued them as the entire upstairs filled with thick and heavy smoke. The responding sergeant saw the smoke billowing from blocks away.

When the sergeant arrived, he found firefighters attacking the blaze just before he had a brief conversation with the mother who had been the beneficiary of the brave officer’s work. She told him that her child smelled the smoke, but she had dismissed the smell as something else. The family may not have escaped the fast moving, suffocating smoke had they not been alerted, or rescued, by officers Carlson and Haugland.

Officer Greg Jeddeloh
Officer Brian Cummings 
 

Officers Greg Jeddeloh and Brian Cummings responded to a call last year about a person ready to jump off a bridge. They quickly learned that a woman went over a guardrail and was standing on the ledge crying and ready to jump. She was on the other side of the safety fence, inches from falling over the ledge above a very busy Interstate 94. The female wouldn’t acknowledge the officers as they attempted to reach her. She was on her phone and she was clearly in crisis.

A responding firefighter asked the woman if he could speak with the person she was on the phone with. As she reached out to hand over her phone, officers Jeddeloh and Cummings lunged and grabbed a hold of her arm, pinning her against the fence, holding her there for a period of time until more firefighters went out on the ledge and secured the woman, ultimately bringing her to safety. The reaction was quick and saved a life.

Officer Lauren Peterson

In the early morning hours Jan. 30, Officer Peterson responded to an unimaginable call. A fellow officer had found a baby beneath her crawling mother in the middle of a street. It was very windy and 10 degrees outside. The mother had been refused shelter six hours earlier due to her extreme intoxication. The baby had a coat and thin pair of pants on, but she wasn’t wearing gloves or shoes.

Officer Peterson realized the baby was “ice cold” to the touch, so she immediately cradled the toddler in her arms and jogged to her car. It should be noted that it is well-known that Officer Peterson keeps her vehicle at about 100 degrees during the winter, and it was a blessing in this very troubling time. The baby was rushed to North Memorial with a core body temperature of 81 degrees. Doctors there say it would have been fatal had the child’s temperature dipped below 80. The emergency room doctor said, “I have no doubt the officers saved that child’s life.”

Officer Kristin Porras
Officer Nathan Sundberg

Last January, Officers Kristin Porras and Nathan Sundberg quickly responded to a domestic dispute. When they arrived, they followed a long blood trail from the street to the side of a home, where they found a victim near unconsciousness and unresponsive. His pants were soaked in blood and they noticed a large cut in the upper left pant leg. After removing the man’s pants, they quickly found a 3-inch wound with blood spurting out of it. Fearing the victim had a lacerated femoral artery and knowing an individual can die under these circumstances in mere minutes, the officers applied a tourniquet before paramedics arrived.

They tended to the dying victim without knowing if the scene was safe or secure. They were solely focused on saving this man’s life, which they did.

Officer Isaac Raichert

When officers get calls, oftentimes seconds matter. They certainly did for Officer Isaac Raichert in November. He was dispatched to a call of a woman hanging from a rope in a park. We would later learn that the woman was a 16-year-old from south Minneapolis.

Upon arrival, Officer Raichert determined that the teen had not been there long, so he immediately lifted her up and relieved pressure on her neck. He heard a slight gasp. The rope was quickly cut, and the officer immediately began chest compressions until an ambulance arrived. A suicide note was found on the girl. While park officers were still on the scene, the teen’s parents had called 911 to notify dispatchers that they had found a suicide note in the home. Officer Raichert hustled to the child’s home to notify the distraught parents that their loved one had been transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. Their daughter survived. Three days later, officers learned the teen woke up, showed signs of mobility and was able to respond to verbal commands.

Officer Michael Rocklin Jr.  

Officer Michael Rocklin Jr. was working off-duty at Cub Foods last year when he heard several employees screaming for help. A Cub employee was bleeding from an artery in the arm. Several upset coworkers were unsuccessful in stopping the bleeding.

Officer Rocklin was joined by the store’s loss prevention officer. Together they improvised a tourniquet out of a belt and applied it to the man’s arm. The only way they could make sure the belt was tight enough was to manually hold and squeeze it in place. They took turns doing this until emergency services arrived. The two men saved the life of a friend and colleague.

Officer Corey Schmidt

Last February, Officer Schmidt was the first to arrive at a call about a baby not breathing. When he arrived, he found a mother cradling her 9-month-old child, who had been left in a bathtub alone. The baby wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse, and the mother quickly told the officer she didn’t know CPR.

Officer Schmidt is well-trained and immediately began CPR. As he performed these life-saving actions, the ambulance arrived and Officer Schmidt sprinted outside with the baby in his arms. He made sure the ambulance took off immediately, knowing the baby was in grave danger. Officer Schmidt continued to perform CPR in the back of the moving ambulance. Shortly after, the baby’s breathing and pulse were restored.

This wasn’t the first time Officer Schmidt saved a life; the last time he taped up a sucking chest wound for a teenager. This time, his proficiency in CPR helped him save a tiny toddler.

Officer Jesse Trebesch

Last August, Officer Jesse Trebesch and two other officers were dispatched on an attempted suicide call. The male victim had overdosed on prescription pills and wasn’t breathing. Officer Trebesch was the first to arrive. He observed that the man actually was breathing now, which he reported on his radio. While he was on his radio, the man went into cardiac arrest.

Without hesitation, Trebesch began CPR. For two painstaking minutes, he continued chest compressions on the man’s lifeless body. After two minutes, he successfully revived the patient, saving his life.

Officer Laura Turner
Officer Matthew Vana
Officer Elliot Wong

Instincts and nonverbal communication among Officers Laura Turner, Matthew Vana and Elliot Wong saved a man’s life last summer. They were dispatched on a call and found a man straddling the Central Avenue bridge’s railing. He had his head down, looking down at the river from a significant height.

Officers Turner, Vana and Wong quietly approached, signaling to each other that they needed to grab this individual immediately, as it appeared he was sure to take his own life in an instant. A camera high above the bridge showed the officers quickly reaching and grabbing the man at the same time, pulling him to safety. There was a real possibility that the weight of the man could have pulled the officers over the rail with him, and the officers put their own safety aside to save his life.

After a little bit of arm twisting, the officers told their story to members of the media. Their interviews, along with the dramatic surveillance video, remain one of the most watched videos ever released by the Police Department.

Chief’s Award of Merit

Cmdr. Chris Granger
Joni Cook
Ryan Patrick

Three years ago, Chief Harteau asked the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs to complete an independent and thorough review of the Minneapolis Police Department’s performance management system. The task set forth was to review six years of data in an effort to improve the department’s practices and policies. Cmdr. Chris Granger, in charge of Internal Affairs at the time, coordinated the entire operation, not only managing the requirements and requests for data, but organizing community meetings on the topic. And he couldn’t have gathered all that data without the tireless efforts of Joni Cook, a Police Department support technician, and Ryan Patrick, the legal analyst for the Office of Police Conduct Review. Cook sifted through endless data fields, even discovering and fixing errors in how data was entered and tabulated. Patrick went through Civilian Review Authority data, retrieved Office of Police Conduct Review data, produced charts, wrote reports and conducted conference calls. Everyone put a lot of time and effort into the project.

The study has been a success, and the Police Department has improved and is continuing to improve its performance management system. The improvements couldn’t have happened without the work of these three.

Sgt. Jarrod Roering
Officer Gretchen Bloss
Officer Peter Hafstad
Officer Dan McDonald
Officer George Warzinik

Last April, 4th Precinct Inspector Mike Friestleben got a call from Loaves and Fishes. The organization that serves food to 300 people daily had just learned that it could no longer afford to staff security at the building. Sgt. Jarrod Roering and Officers Gretchen Bloss, Peter Hafstad, Dan McDonald and George Warzinik were asked to stop by as much as possible to help the families in need of assistance feel safer. By May, the group had built some really great relationships, and soon they were sitting down and eating with the families, cutting food for the children as they were welcomed with open arms. It didn’t take long before they were wearing hairnets and dishing up meals. In addition, every other Wednesday, they’d show up to help unload and hand out fresh produce.

The Police Department stopped asking the group to go to the shelter, but that doesn’t mean they stopped going. They spent more than 50 days at Loaves and Fishes last year, connecting with hundreds of residents each shift.

Their compassion and service to the community didn’t go unnoticed: They were featured on camera on channels 5 and 11, proudly donning their boots, badges, aprons and hairnets.

Officer Brandon Bartholomew
Officer Brandy Steberg

Officers Bartholomew and Steberg are the “go to” team when there is a difficult dialogue that needs to take place. There are times when our communities face tough circumstances, whether after a high profile crime or a series of criminal incidents. Oftentimes, neighbors will call a meeting and Inspector Friestleben will grab Officers Bartholomew and Steberg to sit down with residents for frank discussions geared toward fixing a problem together. While Officers Bartholomew and Steberg excel at listening, they are also part of the community they serve, and their compassion and candor are respected on the streets and inside the precinct.

Together the team attended more than 50 community meetings in 2015, and this is a small fraction of this team’s community outreach: Hawthorne Huddle, Glenwood Avenue Business Association, Ascension Grade School (reading to fourth-graders), Shiloh Temple Family March, North Commons Barbeque, Cleveland Neighborhood Dialogue with Students, Northside Youth Dialogues and City Creek Elementary School Tutor program. The list goes on and on.

Reserve Officer Begad Makky
Reserve Officer Michael Rosenberg
Reserve Officer Dena Norton

On July 26, a Facebook post from a Minneapolis mom described a summer evening Downtown with children who were hungry, dirty, tired and had nowhere to go. Reserve Officer Norton approached her, and the mom thought “Oh no, they’re going to take my kids.” The reserve officer asked, “When was the last time your children had something to eat?” and told the mom and kids to stay where they were. The officer left and returned a short time later with a $50 Target gift card and a pedicab offering a ride to People Serving People. After a warm hug, the reserve officer told the mother to keep trying. The mother wrote, “Those words gave me life.”

Little did Reserve Officer Norton know, a sergeant had watched the entire interaction. When the sergeant asked Norton about it, she deflected, saying Reserve Officers Makky and Rosenberg deserved the credit. Like a good sergeant, the sergeant launched an investigation of sorts and the Police Department learned this trio had been handing out gift cards in excess of $1,000 from their personal funds. They had also connected people who were down on their luck with services that could help them get back on their feet.

Crime Prevention Specialist Karen Notsch

Notsch is a crime prevention specialist in the 3rd Precinct, and she has spent countless hours knocking on doors, taking phone calls, poring over statistics, issuing crime alerts and organizing block clubs. She does so much, and it’s all done for one reason: to help create safer communities in south Minneapolis. She reacts with compassion and serves with unbelievable effort and dedication.

The nomination for Notsch from Inspector Sullivan and Lt. Barnes is two full pages, single-spaced, in a smaller font to fit everything into the report. Here’s a summary:

Sgt. Rich Jackson
Nancy Weber

Sgt. Jackson, Crime Analyst Nancy Weber and Jennifer Brown of Allied Parking took down a huge theft operation from motor vehicles. Sgt. Jackson started on a case of theft from a motor vehicle at a downtown parking ramp and grabbed surveillance video that showed a suspect stealing wedding gifts from a vehicle. He tracked down the suspect, got a search warrant and found hundreds of stolen items in a home.

Sgt. Jackson recovered wedding gifts, electronics, computers, jewelry, passports, a Stradivarius violin and a steer’s skull. After broadcasting the story on the news, the calls came in by the dozens as folks reclaimed their property. Several other police departments called too, working similar cases.

Nancy Weber, a crime analyst in the 1st Precinct, played a key role in the case by producing bulletins for officers, gathering evidence and connecting cases. A customer service representative for Allied Parking was her partner in crime-fighting. She had been tracking and connecting burglary activity. She helped Weber with the bulletins and evidence, and she helped Sgt. Jackson with the investigation.

In 2014, as many as 877 thefts from autos were reported Downtown. Thanks to the efforts of Sgt. Jackson, crime analyst Weber and the Allied Parking employee Jennifer Brown, there was a 42 percent reduction in those types of thefts.

Excellence in Investigation Award

Sgt. Matthew St. George

This next case lasted several years and involved more than $1 million and 11 individuals in two states speaking two different languages. It involved wire intercepts, subpoenaed bank records, confidential sources and surveillance. It also involved a tenacious investigator, Sgt. St. George.

Sgt. St. George began investigating doctors and pharmacists connected to a questionable pharmacy back in June 2013. He’d notice controlled substances being unaccounted for and then an overabundance of substances. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were being wired between almost a dozen people here and in New York. Interpreters were needed as some of the suspects spoke Russian.

Through it all, 11 individuals were identified in this conspiracy between the local doctor and pharmacy. The scope of this fraud is still being uncovered, and several additional indictments are quite possible as a result of the countless hours that Sgt. St. George put into this investigation. He was patient and persistent, and he was thorough and thoughtful.

Officer Steve Lecy
Officer Sean McTaggart

Last March, the Police Department conducted prostitution details in south Minneapolis in response to numerous community complaints. These are often difficult investigations, and what we’ve learned is sometimes our suspects are victims. Recognizing this difficult situation is key to helping many people in the long run. It’s exactly what Officers Steve Lecy and Sean McTaggart did in one particular case.

After arresting a woman for prostitution, the two officers brought her to the precinct to be debriefed. Using both compassion and investigative skills, a rapport was built. The young woman shared with officers that she was being trafficked for sex, and her connection to one man lead her down the path of prostitution and drug addiction. The woman was terrified but trusted the officers enough to share her information, which they corroborated through their investigation. They also found two more similar victims.

After executing a search warrant, the Police Department arrested a man with 43 documented arrests, including domestic violence and sexual assault. This was a man who had a history of preying on and abusing women.

Officers Lecy and McTaggart’s work didn’t end there; they provided the original victim with support and protection through the criminal justice process, which ended in a guilty plea and jail time for a very hardened criminal. Officer Lecy and McTaggart’s efforts likely saved many more women from becoming victims.

Published Feb 10, 2016

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