St. Paul police Officers of the Year take pride in facing peril

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 8:46 PM

Pair in parking lot shootout also are honored with Medal of Valor.

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St. Paul police officer Brian M. Wanschura, who was shot by a suspect while on patrol on Oct. 23, 2012, gets a hug from his daughter, Ella, 5,

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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St. Paul officers Daniel King and Brian Wanschura aren’t afraid to be dangerous.

Wanschura said that “dangerous” officers don’t just respond to crime but also are aggressive in preventing it from happening in the first place.

“They are the ones who day after day, night after night go out and seek out evil and meet it head on,” Wanschura said.

King and Wanschura were honored by St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith as the department’s Officers of the Year. They were also awarded the Medal of Valor, the department’s highest honor.

One night in October, the pair engaged in a shootout not far from the police’s East Side district office with a suspect who had stolen a shotgun from his family and was reported to be acting strange.

After locating the suspect, King drove the squad car into a nearby parking lot. That’s when the suspect opened fire, hitting King’s forearm. Wanschura dove out of the rolling car and returned fire. King, who was again struck, was able to give himself first aid as Wanschura battled to end the threat.

“It’s just amazing how that situation unfolded,” Smith said Thursday to a packed room of officers and their families.

“Today I want to encourage my fellow street cops that being dangerous is something to be proud of,” Wanschura said, after receiving his awards.

Other award recipients:

• Jeffrey Nowicki Sr., the building maintenance supervisor, was named Civilian Employee of the Year for his efforts overseeing a dozen employees and working to make sure the department’s facilities and grounds are kept clean, operational and safe.

• Sgt. Richard Straka is Detective of the Year for his work on Operation High Noon, which began with the identification of an Asian gang member selling large amounts of methamphetamine and led to arrests and seizures of money, drugs and weapons from a large and complex drug ring.

• Officer Mark Lundquist was a finalist for Officer of the Year for his work ethic and proposal to use crime scene technicians to assist the department’s crime lab.

• Officers Yileng Vang and Chou “Jim” Yang were finalists for Detectives of the Year for their work in the case of a violent, juvenile gang rape committed by Hmong gang members. They were commended for their empathy and compassion for the victim and her family.

• William Conroy, the department’s digital evidence technician, was a finalist for Civilian Employee of the Year for his role leading the transition of the department’s photo lab from film development to digital photography.

 

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495

Twitter: @stribnorfleet

 

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