Three-hundred thousand.

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 keep our city safe. And Saint Paul has that team.

Some patrol the city. Others investigate crimes. And then there are those working behind the scenes. Each and every one of them brings something valuable to our city’s public safety efforts.

But some stand out from the crowd.

Each year, the Saint Paul Police Department presents awards to those who have gone above and beyond—no matter their title or role, sworn or civilian—on behalf of the people who live, work and visit Minnesota’s capital city.

Recently, the 2021 Officer, Detective and Civilian of the Year Awards were presented to a group of impressive law enforcement professionals:

Police Officer of the Year: Brianna Kisch

She’s taken drunken drivers and illegally possessed handguns off the streets. She’s talked an armed and suicidal woman out of a hotel and into the arms of help. She’s identified and arrested suspects several shootings. She’s evacuated a burning apartment building.

She’s Officer Brianna Kisch, who is currently assigned to our Central District.

Kisch joined the Saint Paul Police Department in 2018 and has become known for going above and beyond for victims of crime, her community and her colleagues. 

In nominating her for the award, Kisch’s supervisor noted her consistent and extraordinary achievements, professionalism and dedication to duty—especially during incredibly tense calls for service.

“Officer Kisch displays a natural leadership tendency and decision-making skills during the tensest calls for service,” said Sgt. Kou Yang. “She’s a team player who also has the natural ability to take charge at chaotic scenes. She can be relied upon to make calm and collective decisions under pressure.”

Officer Audra Rawlings from the department’s traffic and safety unit, received the Honorable Mention Award.

Detectives of the Year: Amber Larson and Jeff Schwab

It was a case that sent shockwaves rippling throughout the city.

On Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, investigators with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office found four people who’d been shot and killed inside a SUV abandoned in a corn field.

The next day, Larson and Schwab started working on the case after one of the deceased was reported missing out of Saint Paul. The detectives dove in, working with investigators from Dunn County and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Soon, the FBI and ATF joined the effort led by the SPPD homicide investigators.

Methodically, Larson and Schwab began piecing the case together.

They partnered with the video management unit to collect and pore over hours of video surveillance. They coordinated canvassing efforts. They led the effort in our homicide unit to locate and interview witnesses. They left no stone unturned.

And then they identified a suspect.

And through it all, the partners stayed in constant contact with the victims’ families, offering whatever information they could, offering kindness, offering hope that the killer would someday be brought to justice.

Antoine Suggs was arrested in Arizona not too long afterwards.

“While Sergeant Schwab and Sergeant Larson will say this was a team effort, there had to be team leaders,” wrote Senior Commander Sheila Lambie in a nomination letter. “It does take a village, and I am so proud of the entire homicide-robbery ‘village’ and the incredible work and leadership demonstrated by the team’s leaders.”  

Sgt. Nichole Sipes from the homicide-robbery unit received the Honorable Mention Award.  

Civilian Employee of the Year: Michele Bunce

There’s nothing simple about the Saint Paul Police Department budget. To many, it can look like a byzantine system that’s sure to leave them befuddled.

But not when Michele Bunce is around.

Since 2019, Bunce has managed the police department’s $120 million budget—and she makes sure all of the agency’s divisions have the resources they need for their respective missions.

She also makes sure employees—sworn and civilian alike—have what they need to meet their needs.

Bunce oversees grant management, enterprise accounts, state and federal forfeiture compliance, and management of various federal and state programs. She’s also responsible for making sure all the paperwork is on point, from hundreds of contracts to accounts payable and receivables.

She’s dedicated. She’s talented. She’s been invaluable at ensuring the SPPD is meeting its obligation of being good stewards of public resources.

And she’s the 2021 Civilian Employee of the Year.

Molly Casanova, who oversees our records unit, received the Honorable Mention Award.

Last Edited: June 6, 2022