Going above the call of duty


Retired officer Julie Bishop and officers Dennis Brom, Todd Waters and Derek Kruse were recently honored with awards from two police associations for their actions during a chaotic shootout last July in South St. Paul, during which Waters and Kruse were shot and Bishop was injured. (courtesy of South St. Paul Police Department)

South St. Paul officers recognized

 

On April 12 and 16, a group of South St. Paul police officers, one of whom is now retired, were honored and recognized for their actions last year. 

Retired officer Julie Bishop and officers Dennis Brom, Todd Waters and Derek Kruse were given the Award of Honor by the Dakota County Chiefs of Police Association, as well as the Medal of Honor from the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, for their sacrifices during a dangerous July 2018 shootout.

The Award of Honor from the Dakota Chiefs of Police Association is given to an officer who “distinguishes himself/herself by the outstanding performance in an act of gallantry and valor at imminent personal hazard to life above and beyond the call of duty.”

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Medal of Honor is awarded for sacrifice in a single event in which bravery, heroism and/or self sacrifice is demonstrated and “clearly distinguish[es] the individual for gallantry and bravery under life-threatening circumstances.”

 

July 19, 2018

According to court documents, on July 19, 2018, Waters, Bishop and Kruse responded to a group home in the 500 block of 12th Avenue North in South St. Paul after a man who’d been reported missing had turned back up at the facility. He was staying there after being discharged from a security hospital, having been deemed mentally ill and dangerous.

The man, meeting with the officers outside, walked to his car to get a cigarette but pulled a shotgun from his car and began firing at them; both Waters and Kruse were hit by pellets. The officers retreated behind their squad car and Kruse returned fire. Brom was in the area and responded to the report of shots fired.

The man encountered Brom and shot at him, with Kruse and Brom shooting back. The officers were eventually able to pin the man in a building entryway and arrest him after he gave up his gun.

Along with Kruse and Waters being shot, Bishop was also injured during the shootout. The case against the man, who was charged with four counts of attempted murder, is moving through the courts, with an omnibus hearing scheduled for April 29.

 

Deserving recognition

South St. Paul Police Chief Bill Messerich nominated the four for the awards; they also each received an Award of Valor from the South St. Paul Police Department. 

He said all officers expect to possibly be involved in situations like the one that occurred last July.

“Police officers carry guns for a reason. The likelihood you’re going to have to use them is very low,” Messerich said, adding the officers were put in the situation because they were being shot at. He said it was quite remarkable that the man was arrested without being harmed.

“I haven’t been in their shoes, but being shot at is obviously a very stressful event in one’s life, very traumatic,” Messerich said. 

The chief said when he heard what was happening that day that the worst possible outcomes were going through his head. While officers were injured, of all the possible outcomes out there, Messerich said the situation ended positively.

“They went through a traumatic event that they’re probably going to carry with them for the rest of their life. It was good they were recognized not only by their peers, but you go to the Dakota County Chiefs Association ... and the Minnesota Chiefs Association is a much higher step,” Messerich said.

Waters said the recognition confirmed their work is valued not only by the South St. Paul Department, but by other agencies.

“In today’s society, police officers do not get widely recognized for their efforts and achievements, so to have this is very rewarding,” he said, adding the nomination from Messerich reaffirms his commitment to not just the four involved in the shooting, but the entire department.

Brom said he was humbled and honored to receive the awards, noting they also honor the officers’ spouses, family and friends, who went through the process with them.

 

–Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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