Ramsey County honors officers lost in the line of duty

Ramsey County’s fallen officers were honored during a law enforcement memorial ceremony on May 18.

This years memorial service, hosted by the New Brighton Department of Public Safety, took place in recognition of National Peace Officers Week.

New Brighton’s director of public safety Tony Paetznick welcomed the community to the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart)

According to the National Police Week website, Police Week began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week surrounding that date as Police Week.

The 6th Annual Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Day Ceremony, held at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, honored members of law enforcement agencies throughout suburban Ramsey County, who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

According to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, nine officers sacrificed their lives while patrolling the community.

Members of the respected agencies read the names of each of the nine fallen Ramsey County officers as fellow policemen presented memorial wreaths honoring those lost.

“Peace Officer Memorial Day honors those peace officers who, to their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have a become a staple for performance of duty,” said Tony Paetznick, New Brighton’s director of public safety. “Let today’s ceremony commemorate law enforcement officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities and in so doing have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and securities of all citizens.”

Musical contributions to the memorial ceremony included the “National Anthem” and “You Raise Me Up” sung by the Irondale High School Choir, “Taps” played by Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brian Chelstrom and “Amazing Grace” preformed by Bill Gilchrist.

Fallen officers

On Oct. 25, 2009, Ramsey County reserve deputy Mike Wilken died of injuries sustained when he was hit by a vehicle while directing traffic on White Bear Avenue during the departments “Fright Farm” haunted house event. Reserve Deputy Wilken was a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department.

On March 2, 1988, Ramsey County Lt. Earl Kennicutt died of a heart attack while on duty. Lieutenant Kennicutt was a 28-year veteran if the Sheriff’s Department and had served as a patrol operations lieutenant since 1986.

    Officers rested their hats on the ground during the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart)

On Jan. 28, 1971, Ramsey County Sgt. Leslie Rosengren was shot and killed while escorting a 17-year-old psychiatric patient to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office holding unit. The prisoner pulled out a .32 caliber revolver and shot Rosengren twice, killing him instantly. Sergeant Rosengren was a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department.

On Oct. 13, 1958, Ramsey County deputy Kenneth Johnson died in a car accident after he lost control of his vehicle during a car chase at Victoria Street and Lake Owasso Boulevard. Deputy Johnson was with the department for less than a year.

On May 16, 1982, Roseville police officer Bruce Russell died of injuries sustained after he was shot by an individual wanted on felony warrants for aggravated assault. It was when Officer Russell approached the suspects vehicle that he was shot four times. Before succumbing to his injuries, Russell returned fire striking the suspect in the face and chest. The suspect was later apprehended and charged with Officer Russell’s murder.

On Aug. 16, 1972, Roseville police juvenile officer Howard Johnson died after he was shot by an individual he was chasing wanted for the armed robbery of a bank in Rosedale Center. The 21-year-old suspect was later apprehended and later charged with Officer Johnson’s murder.

On Sept. 7, 2009, North St. Paul police officer Richard Crittenden Sr. was shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute. Officer Crittenden and another officer entered the residence, and a struggle ensued with the suspect who was wielding a burning rag. During the altercation, the suspect retrieved a gun, fatally shooting Officer Crittenden and wounding the other officer. Officer Crittenden’s partner returned fire and fatally wounded the suspect. Officer Crittenden served the department for nine years with almost 16-years of service to law enforcement. On Jan. 6, 1955, North St. Police Chief Walter Hause died of a heart attack while on duty. Chief Walter Hause became North St. Pauls first uniformed officer and Police Chief in 1940.

On May 1, 2010, Maplewood Police Sgt. Joseph Bergeron was shot and killed while attempting to question two suspects about a carjacking. The suspect who had shot Sgt. Bergeron attempted to flee, but was killed when he attempted to disarm another police officer. The second suspect later surrendered to authorities and was convicted of Sgt. Bergeron’s murder.

“It is important we recognize and pay tribute to these nine peace officers,” said Paetznick. “We remember each for their sacrifices.”

Contact Sam Lenhart at [email protected]

Mission Developer Ana Becerra of Salem Covenant Church reads a benediction at the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart) Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joseph Kelly was a keynote speaker during the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart)
New Brighton Mayor Val Johnson and Councilmember Brian Strub sat front and center during the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart)
A flag supported by a New Brighton fire truck flew high above the parking lot at Salem Covenant Church during the 2017 law enforcement memorial ceremony. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart) Officers from throughout Ramsey County presented wreaths to honor the fallen police officers during the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart)
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Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joseph Kelly was a keynote speaker during the Suburban Ramsey County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 18. (Sun Focus photo by Sam Lenhart)