The Minneapolis Police Department went ahead with its annual awards program Monday, three days after a chaotic chain of deadly events in Uptown.
By the end of Friday, a burglar had been killed, two officers had suffered gunshot wounds and a motorcycle rider died when his bike collided with a police vehicle.
“Last Friday’s traumatic events serve as another reminder of how dangerous it truly is to be a police officer, never knowing if that so-called routine call turns into something more significant or life-threatening,” Police Chief Janee Harteau told the awards audience.
“Those events also serve as a reminder of how many split-second decisions police officers make every day and the courage it takes to make those decisions, knowing that every one of them comes with risk,” she said.
Harteau so far has declined to answer questions from reporters seeking updates into the investigations of Friday’s events.
“As I reflect on the events of this past weekend, the word I feel best describes out department is resilient,” said Harteau. “We are not perfect, I’m not sure who is, but we are committed to doing our best and are always in search of excellence,” she told the group.
“We are continually challenged but we create opportunities,” said Harteau. “We take setbacks and turn them into comebacks, and when the crisis hits, regardless of the danger, every MPD cop responds.”
The awards gathering brought together officers, civilian employees and their families at the Special Operations Center in North Minneapolis.
More than 200 officers, civilian employees and citizens were recognized for their service on everything from innovative management contributions to life-saving actions in the line of duty.
Officers Brandon Kitzerow and James Huber both received the highest award, the Medal of Honor, for their actions under attack.
The response team to the Accent Signage murders was awarded the Medal of Valor.
The Second Precinct in Northeast Minneapolis was recognized for the highest reduction in the category of crimes that include homicide, rape and aggravated assault.
Officer Kitzerow was responding to a report of shots fired in February 2012. A car was stopped by police and one of the passengers fled on foot. Kitzerow followed, with the two exchanging shots. The suspect was taken into custody and Kitzerow was recognized for his “selfless bravery” in the incident.
Officer Huber and his partner, Officer Katherine Hammes, both of the Park Police, were lured into an ambush last August on West Minnehaha Parkway. Huber was stabbed in the chest but was saved from injury by his body armor. Hammes was stabbed in the back and also suffered a scalp wound and a concussion. The suspect was arrested.
Huber received the Medal of Honor award, and Hammes was awarded the Medal of Valor.
The Civilian of the Year Award went to Lloyd Kwiecien, who is an evidence technician in the Property and Evidence Unit.