That’s about how many times members of the Saint Paul Police Department respond to calls for service or initiate an interaction with someone in the city every year. Each interaction is an opportunity to make Saint Paul a safer place, a chance to improve a life, or one step closer to achieving justice for those who’ve been victimized.
It takes a team of dedicated law enforcement professionals to live up to the police department’s promise of delivering trusted service with respect to everyone who needs our help. And Saint Paul has that team.
Some patrol, others investigate. Most of the work is face-to-face with the community. Plenty happens behind the scenes, too. Everyone who works for the department is essential to keeping the city safe.
But some stand out from the crowd.
Each year, Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell presents awards to those who have gone above and beyond each and every day—no matter their title or role, sworn or civilian—on behalf of the people who live, work and visit Minnesota’s capital city.
Recently, he presented the 2019 Officer, Detective and Civilian of the Year Awards to three impressive law enforcement professionals:
Police Officer of the Year
The 2019 Police Officer of the Year Award was presented to officers Michael Capecchi and Zachary Schoen, partners who patrol the Greater East Side, Payne-Phalen, Dayton’s Bluff and Battle Creek and neighborhoods throughout the Eastern District.
According to Axtell, the duo received the awards for their exemplary performance as patrol officers, their humility and their integrity.
In 2019, both received Life Saving Awards for their work.
Schoen received two awards. The first was after he found a man suffering from a gunshot wound on Sept. 14. The victim had a bullet hole near his groin that was squirting blood and pulsating. Schoen put his finger into the hole to stop the bleeding while two other officers performed CPR on the man.
The second was on Sept. 21, after he used a nasal airway to help a gunshot victim who’d been shot in the chest and was having difficulty breathing. When the victim stopped taking breathes, Schoen performed chest compressions until medics arrived.
Both men lived.
Capecchi received his Life Saving Award after the same Sept. 14 call. He quickly secured gauze and used it to pack the victim’s wound. A doctor from Regions Hospital who treated the man credited the officers’ immediate actions, teamwork and professionalism with helping to save the victim’s life.
The duo was also involved in the Gun Violence Initiative (GVI), an effort launched in 2019 to identify, locate and arrest people illegally carrying and shooting guns in the city. Together, they took 12 illegally possessed handguns off the streets that year. Their efforts garnered kudos from the assistant United States attorney, who recognized their well-prepared, calm, methodical and unflappable work.
“Officers Capecchi and Schoen are the epitome of what being an officer for Saint Paul is all about,” said Axtell. “They treat others with respect and empathy. They’re calm and determined. They work hard each and every day. The dedication and professionalism they display is second to none. Both make Saint Paul a safer and better city for everyone.”
Both officers have been with the department since 2016.
Officer Ed Dion, who retired earlier this month, was the honorable mention for Officer of the Year.
Detective of the Year
The 2019 Detective of the Year Award was presented to Sergeant Jason Giampolo, a sex crimes investigator who has been with the department since 2006.
Axtell said he chose Giampolo for the award based on his leadership and involvement with the Ramsey County Implementation Plan for System Change. It’s an initiative aimed at helping survivors by improving the process for how sexual assaults are investigated—from the initial call for help through the court proceedings.
In 2019, Giampolo chaired the law enforcement subcommittee and worked with partners from across the county to develop and update the protocols used by investigators during investigations. The result of the extensive research, collaboration and development of professional partnerships is a streamlined investigative process used by law enforcement agencies across the state of Minnesota.
“Even amidst all the meetings, research and classes, Sgt. Giampolo still sought out the most challenging of cases and was always there to assist his coworkers,” Axtell said. “His dedication and eagerness to make a positive change for our department, our partners and, most importantly, for victims is nothing short of outstanding.”
Sgt. Brian Hall, who works in the Downtown Beat, was the honorable mention for Detective of the Year.
The 2019 Civilian of the Year award was presented to Melissa Flod, an analyst with the Human Trafficking Unit.
Flod first came to the police department as an intern in 2016 and was hired in 2017. Since then, she’s been involved in complex and intricate cases of human trafficking, working to seek justice for survivors in Saint Paul, throughout Minnesota and across the country.
Last year, she worked on a case involving a human trafficking organization that included multiple suspects and a juvenile victim being trafficked throughout region. Flod was able to identify almost 100 sex buyers and helped secure charges against many of them. In another case, she helped secure the successful federal prosecution of multiple suspects in throughout the United States and in Mexico.
“Melissa is one of the leading experts in the field,” said Axtell. “Her work ethic, attention to detail and enthusiasm are unmatched. But it’s her dedication to helping survivors that drives her to do her best every single day.”
Flod is a member of the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force and was named the “2020 Analyst of the Year” by the Minnesota Association of Criminal Intelligence Analysts.
Jennifer Harrington, an office assistant with our Training Unit, was the honorable mention for the Civilian of the Year Award.