Gottfredsen named first-ever Police Officer of the Year
Surprise was Chris Gottfredsen's initial reaction when he found out he'd been named the River Falls Police Officer of the Year.
"Later I felt very honored knowing that we have so many excellent officers on this department," Gottfredsen said.
Police Chief Gordon Young presented Gottfredsen with the award at the City Council meeting Tuesday, June 27.
Young said this was the inaugural Officer of the Year award.
"I'm very proud that you're the recipient," Young said to Gottfredsen at the meeting. "It was a tough decision."
In addition to presenting Young with the award, he also gave Gottfredson's kids some "awards" of their own.
"My kids thought it was really cool, too," he said. "They enjoyed their candy bars very much. That was a surprise to all of us."
Young said Gottfredsen's hard work made him "stand out" amongst his fellow officers. He especially praised Gottfredsen's work with the local schools, where he has served as the department's school liaison officer since around 2008. He will start his tenth year in that position next year.
"You work tirelessly as a police officer," Young said, "but perhaps more importantly as a teacher for the children."
Young especially praised the mock car crash held at the high school last year, which Gottfredsen helped arrange.
Gottfredsen's family was very proud of him.
"Several family members congratulated me along with many friends," he said.
His wife wanted to be at the City Council meeting, but wasn't able to as she was traveling for work. Gottfredsen said she was disappointed not to be there.
Gottfredsen joined the police department in May 1998.
"I did not grow up wanting to be a police officer," he said in a later interview. "At some point in my life when trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career, I felt that this was the most fitting with my personality and strengths."
When he's not on duty, Gottfredsen enjoys spending time up north, near the water, where his family often spends time together boating, beaching and fishing.
"I am proud to work for the River Falls Police Department," Gottfredsen said. "As our department has so many great officers, to be formally recognized in this manner is a great honor."