Heroism to everyday deeds
Dr. Laszlo "Les" Tekler of Duluth isn't a typical cardiologist. He's the first volunteer to become a sworn officer to serve the Superior Police Department as a tactical physician, assigned to the Emergency Response Team.
A senior partner at St. Luke's Cardiology Associates and chief of cardiology at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Tekler took it upon himself to get attend the police academy at Chippewa Valley Technical College to prepare himself to work with the department's tactical response team. He graduated top of his class, and was elected class president by his peers.
Tekler's tale represents just one of the many stories recognized Friday when the Superior Police Department holds its annual Law Enforcement Ceremony. The ceremony begins at 4 p.m. in the Board Room on the second floor of the Government Center with the swearing in of Tekler and newly appointed Officer Christopher Woolery.
Woolery is a certified firefighter and paramedic who served as a medical support specialist with the Minnesota Army National Guard for eight years. He married his wife, Michelle, in May and is currently attending recruit training at Chippewa Valley Tech.
"It's very important that we share that," said Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters. "We exist to serve the community and that's why we're here, it only makes sense that we share some of our challenges and successes with them."
Peters said while police work can strain families, the annual ceremony lets loved ones know the officers are appreciated for the work they do day-to-day to protect the community.
"I take a great deal of pleasure when I see young families and children of police officers, from the youngest kids to the grandparents of an officer ... the smiles and pride with which they support the organization is just great," the chief said.
The stories are many, but just a snapshot of the kinds of law enforcement work being performed in the city everyday. But it's not just sworn officers whose efforts garner attention. A civilian city employee whose daily support makes the technical side of policing easier and a volunteer who gives hundreds of hours each year to serve the auxiliary force that supports the work of the police department are among those to be honored Friday.
Some of the stories include acts of heroism. Officers risking their lives to dive under the ice and recover the victim - and later his dog - after a vehicle plunged through the ice on the St. Louis River in February, or the apprehension of an armed suspect involved in stabbing three people in April.
Others involve investigative work: Hours listening to jail recordings to convict a shooting suspect; narcotics work; gaining the trust of witnesses to bring a drive by shooter to justice; gathering evidence to take a suspected serial rapist off the streets; following a vehicle suspected to be involved in a robbery to make an arrest.
Still other officers stood between suicidal people, their desire to kill themselves, and potentially bring harm to the public nearby.
And in one cases, just plain old-fashion policing, reaching out to a community often fraught with the kind of crime that happen in places where people gather to prevent crime from getting a foothold and making Superior a safer place to stay and visit.
"This is just a small snapshot of what's happened in the community over the year," Peters said.
A committee of their peers in the department reviews both high profile and day-to-day activities of the department to select officers honored during Friday's ceremony.
"It's a way to encourage and recognize officers for their outstanding work and to let them know that they are making a difference in the community," Peters said. "Day in and day out, the men and women of this department are serving with professionalism and a high degree of skill and courage. They are protecting this community and they are doing it well."