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City recognizes police bravery, promotions

The Cloquet City Council chambers were packed with family and friends Tuesday, present to support more than a dozen Cloquet police officers being honored by the city.

Cloquet police chief Derek Randall recognized eight officers for meritorious service in response to the deadly Jan. 8 shooting, which left the shooter and two innocent people dead at a hotel in Cloquet.

Investigators from the Cloquet Police Department and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation ultimately determined the shooter was a stranger to his two victims, had drugs in his system, and was likely having a "mental health episode" when he shot a front desk clerk inside the hotel, a guest in the parking lot, and then himself.

But no one knew that when the 911 call came in.

"Tonight, I want to thank those officers who responded significantly to the scene," said Randall, emotion choking his words at times. "They fearlessly and without hesitation or regard for their own safety responded to a hostile area, unknowing ... what had occurred. They provided medical assistance to a victim and sought out the threat or perpetrators [not] knowing who or what that threat might be. Ultimately, they were able to clear the entire area, access video surveillance and determine whether the threat was neutralized. These officers did exactly what our community expects, and align perfectly with our department's motto, mission, vision and core values."

He thanked other law enforcement agencies and emergency medical services from around the region for their response that night, mentioning some responders by name before calling his own officers to the front. The group of Cloquet officers recognized for meritorious service included Sgt. Nathan Cook, Sgt. Zack Sandstrom, Detective Kristina Sather and Officers Jacob Bubb, Brodie Nordquist, Trevor Kaldor, Ben LaFave and James Demko.

"It's extremely heartening to witness our officers' acts of bravery and courage," Randall said. "While it would have been better to honor with lifesaving awards, their actions deserve recognition and gratitude nonetheless."

Randall and the city council also recognized four new officers and three promotions Tuesday. The chief praised Detective Ronald Timmons, Sgt. Andrew Wappes and Sgt. Kyle Voltzke for earning their promotions with dedication and skill. In a ceremony that hadn't been held in a while, he welcomed police officers Brittany Asanovich, Dariano Giancola, Jacob Bubb, and Jared Braveheart, who has filled the School Resource Officer position for nearly two years.

Sixth District Carlton County judge Amy Lukasavitz administered the oath of office after sharing a few words.

"I am in awe of the service you are willing to do and the service that many of you have done at this point," she said, before beginning the ceremony, which ended with family and friends coming up to pin the badges.

Mayor Roger Maki, who will be out next month for a cochlear implant, praised the police force. "They make Cloquet proud," he said.

In other matters Tuesday, Randall told the council that his department has completed its new stun gun training and received body cameras, which will be in service after final training and policy review.

Public works director Caleb Peterson informed the council that the city received $1.4 million in state Local Road Improvement Program grant funds that will help pay for the reconstruction of Armory Road from the armory to White Pine Trail. The funds come from state bonding dollars.