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Longtime St. Paul police civilian go-getter retiring Wednesday

Amy Brown dabbed at her eyes as she read yet another goodbye e-mail from someone else who will be sorry to see her go.

But, after 34 years of pursuing grant money, starting community outreach programs and helping St. Paul citizens better understand their police department, Brown is retiring. Her last day is Wednesday.

Brown — her name is Amelia Jensen but she still uses her maiden name on the job — has been the go-to go-getter for five chiefs of police, from Richard Rowan to Thomas Smith. The list of her accomplishments and her duties is long.

She started in the department as a temporary clerk/typist and, along the way, she earned a degree from the College of St. Scholastica and attended Northwestern University’s School of Staff and Command, earning the trust of police administration. She is in charge of all Data Practices Act requests that come to the department and has led the department’s Records Management System project.

Brown played a key role in creating the St. Paul Blueprint for Safety, an interagency effort to combat domestic violence. She is the police department’s liaison with the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office and serves as civil litigation coordinator.

A recent winner of the department’s Civilian of the Year award, Brown oversees the Research and Development Unit to ensure crime statistics are accurate. And, in her current position as Research and Grants Manager, she has helped bring nearly $12 million in outside funding to the department over the past 10 years.

“All these things you have cheerfully accomplished with an invaluable can-do attitude,” Chief Smith wrote her when he gave her the Chief’s Award in October.

On Tuesday, he said in an e-mail: “Amy’s work has helped the department become the best for the citizens of St. Paul. It’s also played an important role in helping the community trust law enforcement and to see the good that officers bring to the city.”

Brown said she feels honored to have been a part of this police department. “This has been a very progressive police department,” said Brown, whose grandfather was a longtime St. Paul police officer and member of the Police Band. “The community just is really great here.”

Her plans now? After the department throws her a retirement party next week, she said she plans to spend the next five months or so relaxing in the Florida sunshine.

James Walsh • 651-925-5041

St. Paul police K9 pioneers honored at new department museum

Pat McDonald really didn't mind her husband Larry suggesting a detour to Baltimore after their honeymoon at Niagra Falls. He wanted to see some dogs, he said. Police dogs.

"It was still a good honeymoon," she said.

It turned out to be a good visit for St. Paul, too, as what McDonald learned would spark the formation of the St. Paul Police K9 unit in 1958, the second full-time unit in the country after Baltimore. On Monday, McDonald, a retired police lieutenant, retired officer Edward Buehlman and the late Bill Swiger were honored as the unit's three original human members at the unveling of a new display in the lobby of police headquarters. Swiger died in 1993.

The officers' original canine partners -- Pal, Baron and Champ -- were remembered as well by the nearly 100 people, including current and former K9 officers, packed into the lobby. Police Chief Thomas Smith presented certificates and medals to McDonald and Buehlman for their work in researching, developing and promoting the unit, which now numbers 28 teams and is one of the largest in the country.

Since its inception, the unit has won multiple honors and competitions, including the National Field Trials this year. It was the eighth time the unit has won that championship.

"They are not 'Kind of the Best.' Not 'a little bit of the best.'" Smith said. "Without a doubt, they are the best K9 unit in the United States."

Buehlman remembered slightly more modest beginnings. He recounted the story of how McDonald hatched the idea: Once, while on stakeout during a cold day in Hidden Falls Park, the partners were struggling to keep warm, despite wearing their long police coats.

McDonald, Buehlman said, was struck with a thought.

"What the hell do we do if we have to jump a fence?" he said to laughter. "That's how it started."