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Minnesota National Guard
MPD Sgt. Blackwell: 'We're human, we have hearts, we care about people'

Minnesota National Guard MINNEAPOLIS, Minn(KMSP)- Talking with Minneapolis police Sgt Katie Blackwell, it's clear she truly cares about her job and the people who live and work in the first precinctWhen a man was sexually assaulting women in Ramp C downtown last week Sgt Blackwell took it personally, making his arrest a top priority The suspect was in custody within 48 hours

"We just won't tolerate predators walking through our city and our communities, so yeah, I took it pretty personally," Sgt Blackwell said

To understand why she cares so much, one has to know where she's coming from, and it's quite a story She grew up one of 10 kids in northeast Minneapolis, something Sgt Blackwell says helps her connect with her community

"When you put yourself in their shoes, or like, I understand what it's like to come from poverty, and then I grew up in the inner city, and I moved around a lot," she said

Sgt Blackwell joined the Minnesota National Guard when she was 17 as a convoy commander in Iraq, and she was also in charge of the scout vehicle She earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star leading her unit through danger; her convoy was blown up three times She ended up surviving a head and leg injury

"I put my flashlight down on my leg and asked them to look at my leg to make sure it was still there He said it was," she remembered

Back here at home with the Minneapolis Police Department, she has won numerous awards A commendation in 2010 for chasing down the Powderhorn rape suspect right as he was ready to attack again She has won two lifesaving awards, two more commendations for chasing down robbery suspects, and with a bow and arrow pointed right at her, she talked a man out of shooting her so she didn't have to shoot him She's also the leader of the negotiation team However, one of the especially important roles she's taken on is teaching fellow cops how to respond when they encounter veterans

"Their survival instincts kick in because they're in crisis, and we, as police officers, surround them and you know, they're trained to fight, so teaching officers how to de-escalate the situation and how to come up peacefully instead of ramping them up," she explained

Back out on the beat, Sgt Blackwell is quick to talk about the good work of her team She may be the leader, but she says success is all teamwork

"We wear bulletproof vests, but we're not bulletproof We're human, we have hearts, we care about people," she said "I love that for one minute you can be handing out baseball cards to kids And then you might be chasing down a criminal and putting them away, you might be consoling a victim"

October 15, 2014
Karen Scullin
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