Longtime partners Johnson and Schmidt receive Rowan Award

On Friday, May 5, two longtime police officers and partners were presented the Rowan Award at the annual Saint Paul Police Foundation Blue Nite Gala. 

Chief Todd Axtell presented Officers Bruce Schmidt and Mike Johnson with the award at a ceremony attended by members of Richard Rowan's family. 

Rowan was the chief of the Saint Paul Police Department from 1970 to 1979. He is remembered for providing strong and steady leadership throughout his tenure, which was a turbulent time in the City of Saint Paul. Chief Rowan has been described as a man of integrity who displayed courage and innovation during his tenure as chief.  

To honor his memory, an award was created in his name. The Rowan Award is presented at the Saint Paul Police Foundation Blue Night Gala to a Saint Paul police officer, sergeant or commander who best exemplifies the characteristics that reflect Chief Rowan’s tenure. The honor is awarded to a sworn employee who, with integrity, courage and innovation, displays the best example of police work for that year.  

This year the recipients are Johnson and Schmidt, who jointly possess more than 55 years of law enforcement experience. 

Johnson joined the Saint Paul Police Department in 1990.  He has been assigned to the Eastern, Central and Southwest Districts, and the Vice Unit. His current assignment is with the Downtown Beat. Officer Johnson has been awarded a medal of commendation, two unit citations and 10 letters of recognition for his exceptional police work. Officer Bruce Schmidt has served as a Saint Paul police officer since 1989. Currently assigned to the Downtown Beat, he has previously worked at the Central, Eastern and Northwest Districts, and served six years as a canine handler. Officer Schmidt hails from a long line of public servants–his grandfather, great-uncle, father and brother have all served as Saint Paul officers.  He has been awarded three medals of commendation and eight letters of recognition for his outstanding police work.  

As downtown beat officers, Johnson and Schmidt routinely assist crime victims, check on homeless residents, and provide general police services to downtown residents, workers and visitors. They are on a first name basis with many of the people they serve. Johnson and Schmidt are trained crisis intervention team officers who are often called upon to deescalate difficult situations involving those suffering with mental illnesses or addiction issues. Their communication skills and kind-heartedness build trust and partnerships. When presented with challenges, which they often are, they lead by example and continue to demonstrate empathy, kindness, and compassion. 

Honorable Mention

Officer Jamie Sipes was also nominated for the award. He has been a Saint Paul police officer since 2000 and has worked a variety of positions, including the Motors Unit, the Central District and the Forensic Services Unit. His current assignment is with the Eastern District. 

Sipes has been awarded three medals of commendation for his outstanding work. He is a longtime member of the crisis negotiation team, and his specialized training as a negotiator and years of practical experience as a patrol officer contribute to his ability to resolve difficult calls for service. 

As a negotiator, Sipes responds to many calls for service that require him to quickly and calmly assess the situations, formulate plans with the other responding officers, and implement those plans. Due to his quick thinking and consistently calm and professional manner, many of these calls are quickly and safely resolved. 

In one case, Officer Sipes responded to a local hospital to assist a despondent man who had barricaded himself in a bathroom with an infant. Sipes arrived on the scene and spoke to the man in a calm and understanding manner. The man agreed to come out of the bathroom and no one was harmed. This is just one example of the many calls when Sipes has demonstrated exceptional negotiating skills and remarkable compassion.  In addition to his regular duties, Sipes works to help develop the department’s crisis intervention team training.  

Learn more about the Rowan Award