The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Wednesday announced Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, is the 2021 recipient of the organization’s bipartisan Legislator of the Year Award.

The association's Legislator Recognition Program recognizes members of the Minnesota House or Senate or the state’s congressional delegation for their leadership and support on important legislation impacting law enforcement and public safety.

“Senator Gazelka continues to show strong support for the types of measures that will improve public safety,” stated Eric Werner, association president, police chief in Maple Grove, in a news release. “He was willing to listen to our concerns and carry them forward to the Governor and House Majority Leader as the 2021 Legislative Session progressed. We felt Senator Gazelka did more for our Association and the challenges facing police chiefs than any other legislator in 2021.”

Gazelka is the seventh recipient of the police chiefs association's Legislator Recognition Award, which is given to lawmakers who author and support bills addressing the legislative priorities of police chiefs in Minnesota.

“It’s an honor to receive this award from the MCPA,” Gazelka stated in the release. “Our police are the frontlines in our communities to keep people safe, and I’m grateful to have this distinction at the legislature. Defending the police has taken a new meaning as police step up in the face of vocal opposition from within the Capitol, and efforts to defund their work in our state. I want every officer out there who is doing the good work of community relations, stopping criminals, and helping out their citizens to know: I’ve got your back.”

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Past winners of the MCPA Legislator of the Year award include:

  • Sen. Ron Latz (DFL) St. Louis Park (2015),

  • Rep. Tony Cornish (R) Lake Crystal (2016),

  • Rep. Nick Zerwas (R) Elk River (2017),

  • Rep. Deb Hillstrom (DFL) Brooklyn Center (2018),

  • Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL) St. Paul (2019), and

  • Rep. Mike Howard (DFL) Richfield (2020).

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