St. Paul Police Sgt. Sean Zauhar was presented the Rowan Award of Excellence from St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell at the annual St. Paul Police Foundation Blue Nite Gala Ball.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the annual event was canceled and shifted to a pre-recorded production streamed on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Richard H. Rowan was the chief of the St. Paul Police Department from 1970 to 1979.

“He is remembered for providing strong and steady leadership throughout his tenure, which was a turbulent time in the city of St. Paul. Rowan has been described as a man of integrity who displayed courage and innovation during his tenure as chief. To honor his memory, an award was created in his name,” officials stated in a news release.

The Rowan Award is presented at the St. Paul Police Foundation Blue Nite Gala to a St. Paul police officer, sergeant or commander who best exemplifies the characteristics that reflect Rowan’s tenure. The honor is awarded to a sworn employee who, with integrity, courage, and innovation, displays the best example of police work for that year.

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Axtell stated that from an eight-page nomination letter it was hard to give a summary on Zauher — referring to him as a changemaker, which has led to the greater good for both the St. Paul Police Department and the citizens of St. Paul.

“He has shown innovative leadership and is inspirational to me and many others,” Axtell said in the news release.

Zauhar is credited with rewriting the department’s entire Response to Resistance and Aggression policy. Zauhar also overhauled the police department’s outdated Use of Force Training, developing strategy to minimize use of force to successful outcomes. As an academy trainer, Zauhar standardized the academy’s curriculum and best practices policy, including adult learning concepts for recruits. He is also the lead use of force instructor and has been called on locally and nationally as a resource trainer. Zauhar, in accepting his award, said, “We can never forget the power we have is given to us by the people we serve. We must remind ourselves that the learning process never stops and with each new day lies an opportunity for growth.”

Zauhar is a graduate of Brainerd High School and Central Lakes Community College. His parents are Jill Zauhar-Backberg and Robert Backberg, formerly of Brainerd/Baxter.