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Brainerd officer Schreifels receives Service to Mankind award

“I've never had a loss for words ... but honestly I am today ... I am speechless, but honored. I thank you from the very depths of my heart, in the most sincere and genuine way possible, I am just so very grateful," Troy Schreifels said of being named the 2020 Service to Mankind Award.

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Brainerd Police Officer Troy Schreifels reacts after receiving the Noon Sertoma Club's Service To Mankind Award Wednesday, June 17, at Chef Dave's catering located south of Brainerd. Schreifels , who is a liason officer at Brainerd High School, was prepared to present to the club but was surprised with the award. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

When Troy Schreifels of the Brainerd Police Department enters a room, there’s a good chance most everyone knows his name.

If they don’t, they will by the time he exits.

Schreifels, always with a smile on his face, is someone who will take time to help someone in need — a trait proven time and time again by the many organizations he is involved with in the Brainerd lakes area. Schreifels has invested a lot of his time getting to know people in the lakes area and has always had his thumb on the pulse of the community.

Up until Wednesday, June 17, that is, when he was blindsided.

When Schreifels entered the room at Chef Mike’s Catering, south of Brainerd next to Wild Rice Depot, for a Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club meeting, he thought he was going to give a presentation. Instead, Sertomans surprised him by awarding him the 2020 Service to Mankind award. This award goes to someone who went above and beyond the normal call of duty and is not a Sertoma member. This award is the highest honor Sertoma can bestow on a non-member and it honors outstanding volunteer service to the community.

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Sertoma Club President Nick Haglin brought Schreifels to the area to face the noon Sertoma members as Schreifels was getting ready for his presentation. As Haglin began to speak about the award, Schreifels’ wife Julie, and his brother and sister-in-law Bryant and Sara Schreifels, with their son Cooper, walked into the room surprising him.

Schreifels was nominated by JD Berns, second vice president of the Sertoma Club, who had help putting together a nomination presentation from Julie Schreifels, Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston and Pat Pickar.

“I'll be very honest with you, in the interest of full disclosure and 100% transparency. I've never had a loss for words,” Schreifels said as he expressed surprise and shock on getting the award. “... but honestly I am today. I mean this came out of nowhere. And I mean I had a great presentation for you.

“I am speechless, but honored. I thank you from the very depths of my heart, in the most sincere and genuine way possible, I am just so very grateful.”

Schreifels has been with the Brainerd Police Department for 22 years, after spending the first five years of his law enforcement career with the Breezy Point Police Department. Schreifels worked up through the ranks from officer to sergeant in 2007. In 2008, he took the position where he has made his biggest impact, the school resource officer for the Brainerd School District.

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“This is where Schreifels has become a mentor to students who have come from a troubled upbringing, and a friend to everyone. He is the gentle giant, the kind of guy you want on your side! Troy is the guy who will immediately raise the mood of the room 10 levels when he walks in,” Haglin said reading the nomination letter.

Schreifels has done everything he can within his career to help better the community and provide education, the nomination letter stated. Schreifels is a leader within the department for ALICE Training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and is part of active shooter training resolution and education. He extended his mentoring to a position with Central Lakes College to help train and mentor future law enforcement officers. He was named the 2002 Crow Wing County Police Officer of the Year and the Brainerd Police Officer of the Year.

Schreifels and his wife, Julie, have been married for 23 years and live in Brainerd. They raised two children — Serena and Evan.

“Troy has become a model ‘Dad’ you could only wish to be,” the letter stated. “Troy spends as much time with his family as he can, but he has given more time to his community then we can ever repay him for.”

Schreifels is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Lutheran Social Services Youth Advisory Board, Brainerd Lakes Early Childhood Coalition; and a board member of Mid-Minnesota Women's Center, Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center, Brainerd Area Youth Ministries, Lakes Area Restorative Justice and Brainerd Community Action; a leader and participant of Walk A Mile in her Shoes, recently formed Mental Health Focus Team, Brainerd-Baxter Youth Center and Brainerd Warrior Football.

When Sertoma members asked Schreifels if they got all the organizations, he replied, “Almost.”

The letter continued to state: “Troy has been under the radar supporting our community however possible. You will often find him chatting with someone who has had a rough day to lift their spirits. Always worrying about how you are doing, and your family over his own needs.

“Troy was asked once about ways to help out those around Christmas time who might be struggling. His response was powerful. ‘Just Do It,’ he said. He has been purchasing Christmas gifts for families in need for many years, not because he was asked, or was part of a group, but because that family was in need and he had a way to help.

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“This is the type of guy Troy Schreifels is, and his above and beyond community support and love is exactly what Service to Mankind is and is the reason why he was chosen as the 2020 Service to Mankind Award Winner.”

When Haglin finished reading the letter, Schreifels was speechless.

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Brainerd Police officer Troy Schreifels wipes a tears from his eyes Wednesday, June 17, while his accomplishments were being read at the Brained Noon Sertoma club meeting at Mike's Catering. Officer Schreifels was given the Service To Mankind award at today's meeting. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“I've been following in the footsteps of people that have been serving in our community with committees throughout the United States, and stuff like that, but I'll be very honest with you, I never thought anything like this would ever come up because ... everybody deserves this because you know we're all in this together. This is not one person but I truly thank you.”

“Today is a day for Troy to be honored,” Berns said after the program. “When you think about what (service to mankind) means it is Troy Schreifels.”

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“I was very grateful to be able to be part of nominating Troy for the Service to Mankind Award, I couldn’t think of a better person, particularly a more fitting police officer than Troy to receive this award,” McQuiston stated in an email after the program. “Most people are police officers because they want to help people, Troy takes this to the next level by being very involved volunteering in the community. For the past two decades our police department has benefited immensely because of the relationships that Troy has built.”

Regarding the police department, Schreifels had his own surprise to announce to the club members — he plans to retire Aug. 16 as a police officer.

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Brainerd Police officer Troy Schreifels and his brother Bryant Schreifels smile Wednesday, June 17, at Chef Mike's Catering south of Brainerd. Schreifels' family surprised Troy as they knew he was receiving the Brainerd Noon Sertoma Service To Mankind Award. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

When asked about Schreifels retirement plans, McQuiston stated Schreifels has been a major part of shaping the police department’s culture for a long time.

“His dedication is clearly seen with his involvement in training, commitments to the community, all the positive relationships he’s fostered, and particularly his devotion to the school district for the past 14 years,” McQuiston said. “Troy is irreplaceable in many ways and this is a very significant loss for our department.”

Outside of the award

Schreifels gave club members a chance to ask questions and one lady yelled out that she loves the Brainerd Police Department. She said she had to state this with everything that has gone on in the world, specifically with the death of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police Department. She asked how police officers are doing with morale because of this incident.

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Schreifels said he can only speak on behalf of the Brainerd Police Department, but said they have a great community backing. However, he said when something happens like it did in Minneapolis it does have a ripple effect to all police officers.

“You feel it everywhere, but is Brainerd totally immune from it? Absolutely not,” he said. “You have little teeny weeny incidents here and there, but the support is overwhelming. I mean there were times just recently that our break room is just covered with gifts, food, pop, water, I mean you name it. Kids are coming in and sending thank you letters and phone calls and emails and. So, overall, it's good.”

“On a personal level, when I go around and do speaking engagements, I always like to speak of the fact that sometimes when you talk to certain people, they just see the uniform, the badge and the gun. And what some people forget is that we're human beings. We're all human beings in different professions. .... We have some of the same feelings you do and yes it hurts. And in any industry, are there some bad apples? Absolutely, there is. But I can tell you that in my last 17 years, I've (trained for) use of force, firearms, defensive tactics ... and I've been through a lot of different kinds of reforms through the state of Minnesota and it’s getting a lot better.”

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.

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