A soft-spoken veteran patrol officer who makes it a habit of saying "please" and "thank you" all while volunteering to work sometimes dangerous night hours.

A detective whose savvy police work played a pivotal role in reducing shots fired in St. Paul by 25%. And an administrative support worker with a reputation for diplomacy.

All three were honored Monday as St. Paul's police officer, detective and civilian of the year.

"We are blessed to have so many talented cops, investigators and civilian employees," said St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. Mayor Melvin Carter concurred, thanking officers for building community trust.

Adrian Saffold, who works the 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift in the eastern district, was named officer of the year at the annual ceremony.

Sgt. Michael Dunaski, who works in the gang and gun unit, was named detective of the year and Angela Steenberg, an administrative staffer for four police chiefs, is civilian employee of the year.

Also honored were Rogelio Garcia Trejo, a parking enforcement officer, who had the most parking tags with 8,631. Saffold had the most tags in the eastern district with 842.

Officer Alexander Graham, who won honorable mention as officer of the year, led the department with 70 drunken driving arrests.

Axtell's top three choices all received standing ovations. "You deserved it," was a common refrain as officers congratulated them afterward.

Axtell said Saffold's bid to work later hours in a busy district was not common for a veteran officer but it allowed him "to make a difference and be a role model to the younger officers."

He said that last year Saffold was called to a chaotic homicide scene. As he "tried to protect the victim and the sanctity of the scene," a distraught man broke through the crime scene tape.

"Instead of showing frustration or anger," Axtell said, "Adrian stepped up to the man and embraced him, Adrian's compassion during such a horrific time positively impacted the grief-stricken man and everyone at the scene."

Saffold, who grew up in Milwaukee, was first hired in 1989 by the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport police. In brief remarks at the luncheon, Saffold drew laughter when he told how he informed his mother he'd been hired as a cop.

"Don't shoot yourself in the foot," she responded.

He was hired by the St. Paul Police Department in 1991. Asked why he preferred the late hours, Safford said in an interview, "I like staying busy and I like the people." Those hours can be dangerous, he agreed, "But I don't let that deter me."

"I want to treat people the way I want to be treated," he said, explaining his philosophy. "You don't have to yell at people to get your point across. People respond more favorably when I talk with a soft voice, a lot of "please" and "thank you."

Dunaski, whose father, Tom, was a sergeant who investigated some of the highest-profile murders in St. Paul, joined the department in 2001. Axtell credited him with playing a big role in reducing shots fired in the city from 1,370 in 2017 to 1,030 in 2018.

In an interview, Dunaski said he was a patrol sergeant in the midnight hours from 2015 to 2018. He learned what bars gang members frequented and what late-night convenience stores and gas stations they went to afterward. The shootings often took place in the parking lots.

Dunaski went on to the gang and gun unit in 2018, and convinced bars to install metal detectors to screen for guns. He also encouraged late-night stores to increase lighting, cameras and security, and got some to close between 1 and 4 a.m. One bar and two tobacco stores were shut down for violations. His unit put confidential informants in some of the gangs, executed warrants and built cases, leading to arrests.

"You realize it's only a small amount of people causing all the havoc," he said.

Sgt. Amy Boyer received an honorable mention for detective of the year and Carol Gronfor, a grant specialist, received an honorable mention for civilian employee of the year.

Steenberg, daughter of retired Deputy Chief Ed Steenberg, joined the department as a clerk typist in 1987 and later worked for chiefs William Finney, Thomas Smith, interim chief Kathy Wuorinen and Axtell, with time out working for Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

"Adept at diplomacy, Angie communicates with meaningful words and the proper tone, depending in the situation," said Axtell, calling it "an art" that few achieve.

Interviewed before the ceremony, Steenberg said the chiefs she worked for had "small egos and a good sense of humor." Asked if she knew what Axtell was going to say about her, she responded with a smile, "Of course I do," she said. She typed the speech for him.