Sgt. Kelly Franco, the Metro Transit Police Department's 2020 Officer of the Year, at Union Depot Station.
Over the past two years, Metro Transit police have put in long hours, confronted the risks of COVID-19, and responded to calls for police reform by engaging in conversations with policy makers and the community.
They’ve also done commendable work, implementing body worn cameras, apprehending multiple armed suspects, and connecting at-risk individuals with the resources they need.
These and other efforts were recently recognized at the department’s annual awards ceremony, where more than a dozen police officers and several civilians were honored.
“These past two years have been unlike anything I’ve seen in over 30 years,” Chief Eddie Frizell said. “Who has the playbook for a worldwide pandemic? Who has the playbook for global unrest, which we find ourselves at the center of? And, oh, by the way, why don’t we do them both at the same time? That heightens these awards as these individuals continued to do their jobs under these very strenuous conditions.”
Among the honorees was Sgt. Kelly Franco, who was recognized as the department’s officer of the year. Franco grew up on Saint Paul’s East Side and joined the department in 2008 as a Community Service Officer.
She has worked in nearly every aspect of the department and currently supervises a team of officers who work overnight in St. Paul, responding to calls and checking trains at Union Depot.
In 2020, Franco conducted background checks, served as the department’s lead TASER instructor, and organized an academy graduation event. “A lot of stuff was thrown at me, and despite that I think people knew if they gave me a task that it would be done,” she said.
Other honorees include:
- Sgt. Tim Lawrence, who was named the department’s supervisor of the year.
- Officer Jake Ayers, who received the Timothy Bowe Award, which goes to a part-time Metro Transit police officer.
- The Patrol Division and the Business Technology Unit, which received unit citations.
- South Operator Abdullahi Farah Egal, who received a Civilian Award of Commendation for his response to an altercation.
Four new officers welcomed
Four new police officers were also sworn in on December 9, before the awards ceremony. Among them was Heather Schumacher, who most recently served as a crisis advocate, supporting victims after critical incidents. “In that role, I was always the second or third person to respond,” she said. “I wanted to be first.”
The Metro Transit Police Department is hiring police officers and Community Service Officers, part-time positions for students pursuing careers in law enforcement, as part of an ongoing effort to improve the customer experience on and around buses and trains. Learn more at metrotransit.org/police.