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Duluth police honor officer of the year, other award winners

Sworn officers and civilian employees were also recognized for lifesaving responses and major investigations at the annual ceremony.

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Lt. Chad Nagorski (left) presents an award at the Duluth Police Department's annual commendation ceremony Thursday at the Public Safety Building. Pictured at center are Officer of the Year Jim Forsyth, Supervisor of the Year Keandre Ghoram, Investigator of the Year Taylor Stutsman and Professional Staff of the Year Amy Brix.
Contributed / Duluth Police Department

DULUTH — For Duluth Police Chief Mike Ceynowa, his department's annual commendation ceremony is a day to circle on the calendar.

"What you will hear today it's just a small sample of the tremendous and extraordinary work that happens here day in and day out," Ceynowa told a packed room at the Public Safety Building on Thursday. "We have officers and professional staff that are committed to the well-being of every person, and we strive to do so with professionalism and compassion."

The department handed out dozens of awards and commendations, recognizing officers who went above and beyond to help save lives in emergency situations, undertake extensive investigations in drug trafficking or homicide cases or lead major initiatives to help the agency implement new and improved technology.

Also among the awards are four given out annually to outstanding staff members, as selected by their peers within the department.

Jim Forsyth, a community officer assigned to West Duluth, was named officer of the year. Forsyth is part of the Get Hooked on Fishing program that takes kids on pontoon trips, helped established the CODE4 community engagement bus and takes part in the Blue Santa shopping program during the holiday season.

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"Jim is one of the most well-rounded, hardworking, selfless people we have worked with," Ceynowa said. "Not only is he responsible for long-term problem solving and relationship building in the western half of the city, but he also takes on numerous other tasks with the goal of making the city a better place for everyone. He often goes above and beyond in its daily duties and assigned tasks."

Advocates say changes in state law, an evolution of police practices and the addition of new victim resources all help build confidence for those who come forward.

Sgt. Keandre Ghoram was recognized as supervisor of the year. A former violent crimes investigator, Ghoram now leads a patrol group.

"He's dependable, positive and dedicated to not only ensuring the growth of his peers, but also our department," said Deputy Chief Nick Lukovsky. "He is committed to creating the best crisis negotiation team around and has spent much of his own time ensuring that they have the proper equipment and training. Keandre is a team player both on and off his shift."

Taylor Stutsman was selected as investigator of the year. As a member of the Special Investigations Unit in the Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force, she plays a central role in many high-profile cases, handles K-9 Maverick and is federally deputized to work with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Public officials, family members of officers and other community members applaud during the Duluth Police Department's annual commendation ceremony Thursday at the Public Safety Building.
Contributed / Duluth Police Department

"Taylor has a reputation for targeting offenders with extensive violent backgrounds," said Lt. Chad Nagorski, task force commander. "In recent years, a major challenge has been the overwhelming number of overdose deaths in our area. Taylor works extremely hard to solve these cases, which are time-intensive and very difficult to prove. She works hard for the victims and tries to help each family impacted by these tragic deaths."

Amy Brix was named professional staff of the year. As a senior police records technician, she was described as a "natural leader" who is frequently called upon by others in the department to assist in special projects and problem-solving tasks.

"Amy is known for being approachable, knowledgeable, dependable and a great team player," said Maya Carroll, records and technology supervisor. "Some of her greatest strengths are staying calm in an intense, high-pressure work environment, thoroughness and creating comprehensive work products with little to no guidance. She tailors her work products for her audience and finds the perfect balance of words when corresponding with others — concise and direct, yet thorough and informative."

With a racial bias audit well underway, community feedback will help craft final report on what the agency is doing well and what it needs to change.

The department additionally recognized several promotions in the past year. Rob Hurst, Angela Robertson, David Decker and Chad Guenther were named sergeant, while Matt McShane, Jason Tanski and Joe Miketin achieved the rank of lieutenant.

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Special awards were also presented to the Duluth Police Foundation and Irving Community Club for their support of police initiatives, and a number of firefighters, prosecutors and other partners were recognized for lifesaving efforts and successful investigations.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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