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Cloquet officers receive medals of valor

Two Cloquet police officers have been honored with medals of valor for their courage in the line of duty in a November incident that Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande said was the community's most violent in recent memory.

Two Cloquet police officers have been honored with medals of valor for their courage in the line of duty in a November incident that Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande said was the community's most violent in recent memory.

Officers Rick Benko and Tom Hallfrisch were honored at the Cloquet City Council meeting on Tuesday. Lamirande believes it is the first time in the department's history that medals of valor have been awarded.

"It's a very proud time for their families," Lamirande said.

On Nov. 3, John Harvey Barrett, 20, whose last known address was Redby, Minn., assaulted a woman with a long-barreled weapon, fired several shots at Hallfrisch, and carjacked a vehicle with several people inside. Benko stopped Barrett from fleeing the scene and tried to talk Barrett into giving himself up.

Benko negotiated with Barrett for nearly an hour. Ultimately, Barrett shot himself.

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Nominations for a medal of valor, which honor acts of "outstanding bravery or heroism, demonstrating selflessness, personal courage and devotion to duty," Lamirande said, are made by the police chief and deputy chief and approved by the Cloquet Civil Service Commission. Lamirande also plans to nominate Benko and Hallfrisch for medals of valor at the state level.

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