At its annual awards ceremony Sept. 30, the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) honored officers for those efforts and civilians, including a bus operator, a bus passenger and a passing motorist, for helping them.
Life Saving Award: Sgt. Bret Fraser and Officer Josh Moberg: Both talked people out of jumping from bridges into the Mississippi in separate instances. Moberg had to search for a suicidal woman who had left a bus and then spent more than hour talking with her. Fraser joined a suicidal person, and they smoked cigars together as they talked about the person’s problems. Later, the individual said he would have committed suicide if it hadn’t been for Fraser.
Medal of Merit: Officers Aubrey Olson and James Menter: While checking fares onboard the Blue Line, they encountered a trio who didn’t have fares, including a girl who was being worked as a prostitute. They learned she had been sexually assaulted by one of the adults with her. Due to their police work, her attacker was convicted and sent to prison.
Medal of Commendation: Officers Tommy Eam and Sarah Baker: After an aggravated assault occurred on a bus, these officers took control of a chaotic scene at University Avenue and Rice Street in St. Paul. Prior the suspect’s arrest, the crowd attempted to take justice into their own hands.
Golden Stork Award: Officer Christopher Miles: On Feb. 1, 2017, Miles pulled behind a vehicle parked by the Chicago Lake Transit Center and saw the passenger was in labor. He called for paramedics and assisted in the delivery, making sure the baby was breathing and wrapped it in the mother’s jacket to keep the baby warm until paramedics arrived.
Civilian Award of Merit: East Metro bus operator Hadiyyah Tuillah Gbadoe: She attempted to de-escalate a situation on her bus and later assisted in the attacker’s capture. As an armed suspect verbally threatened a victim, Gbadoe told the suspect “it’s not worth it. Just exit the bus.” Despite her efforts, the assault occurred, and the attacker fled. Two and a half months later, Gbadoe spotted the suspect, called 911, watching him from a distance until St. Paul police arrived to arrest him. MTPD officers took the suspect to Ramsey County Jail.
Civilian Award of Commendation: Tyson Wigley of St. Paul: Wigley was a passing motorist who stopped to help an officer subdue a violent felon.
List of other 2019 award winners:
Officer of the Year – Officer Frank Hintz. He has been the primary investigator on the scene at several major bus and LRT crashes, started a proposal for a drone program for the department’s crash reconstruction team and is one of the leading team members of the MTPD Peer Support Team.
Supervisor of the Year – Sgt. Jason Malland. Assigned to the training unit, he is the lead use of force and firearms instructor, assists with de-escalation training and volunteers with Special Olympics.
Chief’s Award of Merit – Property and Evidence Unit’s Lindsey Moe, Debra Cole and Heather Coulter for successfully handling the move of property from the former West Command offices to the new Metro Transit Police Department Offices. They were 100 percent compliant in the pre and post move audits.
Cpl. Tim Bowe Award – Roseville Police Officer Sithyvon Chau, who also works as a part-time MTPD officer, received this award for his great attitude and professionalism. The award honors a part-time MTPD officer who was killed in the line of duty as a Minnesota State Patrol trooper.
Medals of Merit
Officer Peter Eshenaur and Josephat Onuoha for discovering an arson fire, calling the fire department and attempting to contain or put out the fire until firefighters arrived. Their work helped prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent apartments and preserved evidence for investigators.
Sgt. Salah Ahmed and Officer Steven Schoephoerster were working at a Minnesota United soccer game when they were notified of a person possibly having a seizure at the Snelling Avenue Station LRT platform. Passengers had started CPR, and Ahmed and Schoephoerster took over, taking turns performing CPR. While the man later died at a hospital, their efforts allowed family members to say goodbye before his passing. They later learned the man they aided was a Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department captain.
Civilian Awards of Merit
Thomas Schulte, a passenger who came to the aid of a bus operator being attacked and held the attacker until police arrived.
St. Paul Assistant City Attorney David Palm. He worked closely with the department in 2019 to get orders keeping chronic violent offenders off transit.
Marcus Allen, who works with the Metro Transit IT unit, helped make the department’s transition into its new headquarters go smoothly.
Lynnaia Jacobsen, former Chief John Harrington’s executive assistant, who ensured a smooth transition for Chief Eddie Frizell’s team.
Community leaders Mary Lagarde and Brian Joyce, who have shared their Native American culture with the department’s new officers to help officers build rapport with the Native American community
HAT team member/community outreach coordinator Carol LaFleur, the department’s liaison with local Native American communities
Elaine Warren, a helpful and friendly presence who went from working the front desk at the former West Command to the chief’s executive assistant
Records Unit’s Kristie Johnson and David Orth, who increased their hours worked after two other people left the unit in summer 2019, keeping daily operations moving uninterrupted
Civilian Award of Commendation – Tyson Wigley of St. Paul, a passing motorist who stopped to help an officer subdue a violent felon
Certificate of Appreciation – Officer Jason Michaud for successfully searching with K9 Jack for guns discarded following a shooting; Officers Panhia Lor, Steve Blaha and Abdiasis Mohamed for nabbing a suspect who fled after robbing a passenger at gunpoint; and St. Paul Police Sgt. Jim LaBarre for helping MTPD officers address crime in downtown St. Paul
Three K9 teams who were retired this year as a team after nearly four years of service:
Officer Jason Michaud and K9 Jack
Officer Matthew Wilkinson and K9 Carlo
Officer Erica Fossand-DeFeyter and K9 Nico
Unit Citation Award – Homeless Action Team (HAT)
As part of Homeless Action Team (HAT) efforts, officers interact with citizens near Union Depot in downtown St. Paul. Recently, HAT received a government innovation award from the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Created in 2018 in collaboration with the Metropolitan Council’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (Metro HRA), HAT is a team of dedicated MTPD officers who meet people on trains and buses at the end of the night to provide food, clothing, and housing assistance. Metro HRA supplies federally funded Section 8 housing vouchers to help pay rent for people with low incomes. Last year, over 100 individuals and families were housed.