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Hastings resident earns title of 2016 Officer of the Year

Robert Mooney

Robert Mooney's whole professional life has involved wearing boots and being in the middle of action. The Hastings resident is a 14-year veteran at the Minneapolis Park Police Department. His hard work and dedication recently paid off when he was selected as the 2016 Officer of the Year in the parks department.

"I don't know that I really deserve it, but at the same time, I was chosen and I want to represent well," Mooney said.

The award is a peer award. The officers and supervisors in the department were asked to submit someone who deserved the title of Officer of the Year. Mooney said that he is honored to have been selected for the award because he was selected by the people he works with.

 One of his co-workers said, "He is a problem-solver who works well with recreation staff to keep the parks a safe place for citizens ...(he) is widely respected by officers with the (Minneapolis Police Department) and they know that he can be counted on in any situation."

Mooney joined the army after he graduated from high school. He served as a military police officer. After serving six years, he returned to Minnesota and graduated from Metropolitan State University with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement. He worked for the Minneapolis Police Department and eventually transferred to the Minneapolis Park Police in 2002.

One of his favorite parts about his job is being able to advocate for kids and families, Mooney said. He is able to look at crime maps every day in order to see where crimes are happening within the city. He said that the areas with no crime or very low crime are the parks and that is by design.

"The city forefathers wanted the parks to be safe," Mooney said.

He said that he knows that if the parks are not safe, then families will stop going to them. He likes that he can act on that, respond and solve the problem so that people can go back.

"I like that because that's really hard to achieve as a cop," he said.

In addition to patrol duties, Mooney also serves as field training officer for new officers. He said that he acts as a use of force instructor which involves any kind of self-defense with hands and bodily force. One thing that the department is trying to work on is being proactive, he said.

"We're trying to be ahead of the curve and be responsive to the community and how they want to be arrested," Mooney said.

Mooney will be formally recognized at the Minneapolis Park Police Department's award ceremony. He will receive a plaque and a purple ribbon that can be worn on his uniform.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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