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2003 Officer of the Year
Jef L. Behnken
A valued member of the Burnsville Police Department since 1990, Officer Jef L. Behnken has served in the capacity of Patrol Officer, Multi-Housing Officer, Retail Officer, Emergency Action Group Tactical Team Member, and is currently assigned to the position of Investigator. Officer Behnken has also done a tremendous job balancing his efforts between law enforcement and developing strong community/police partnerships. Over the past 14 years, Officer Behnken has demonstrated a consistent, tenacious work ethic that is second to none.

Diligent Work

Distinguished as Burnsville’s 2003 Officer of the Year, Officer Behnken is noted for his diligent work above and beyond his responsibilities as a Police Officer. Whether aggressively investigating a person or property crime, or responding to a high-risk tactical team callout, Officer Behnken is a consummate professional who resolves the issue at hand.

Strong Work Ethic

Officer Behnken’s strong work ethic and desire to improve and enhance city and police services is demonstrated in his positive attitude to explore new and un-chartered territories. Jef accepted the challenge to organize the department’s newly formed Multi-Housing Unit. Through the implementation of the Minnesota Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, Jef developed partnerships with apartment managers and residents, formalized a strong Multi-Housing Managers Coalition, and became educated in civil law in respect to landlord and tenant rights and responsibility issues.

Multi-Housing Goals
Jef started this new assignment at a time when several of the multi-housing communities were spiraling out of control. Officers were responding to some apartment complexes on a daily basis, with the busiest complex generating over 600 calls for service in one year. When Jef stepped in, one of his first goals was to bring the multi-housing managers together on a regular basis for the purpose of discussing their issues and concerns. Jef also introduced them to the Crime-Free Lease addendum, which became a very effective tool in their fight against crime in their neighborhoods. It also provided the managers with a means of creating a safe community, full of residents who are committed to making their neighborhood a desired place to live. Through Jef’s commitment to the multi-housing neighborhoods, calls for service dropped by over 50% during the first year of the program. Our agency’s patrol force considers the Multi-Housing Unit one of the most successful programs ever initiated by the department.

Successful Community Builder
Due to his proven track record as a successful community builder and a strong team leader, Officer Behnken was selected to manage and implement the city’s “Weed and Seed” project – one of the most publicized initiatives that the Burnsville Police Department has undertaken to date. Jef guided this community-based project from inception by developing strong community/police relationships based on mutual respect and the common goal of creating a safe neighborhood.

Weed & Seed Project
The Weed and Seed project focused on two primary goals – “weeding” out the criminal element in the neighborhood and “seeding” the community with initiatives designed to enrich the quality of life for the residents. Jef organized several crime sweeps that targeted youth-related violence, drug abuse and teen alcohol consumption. A zero tolerance approach eventually cleared the streets of youth-related crime. Jef’s weeding efforts also focused on domestic violence, which eventually lead to the creation of the department’s Domestic Abuse Response Team. Their work resulted in a significant decrease in the recidivism rate of repeat offenders in the Weed and Seed neighborhood.

Neighborhood Watch Program

As the crime rate continued to drop, Officer Behnken shifted his focus to the seeding element of the project. The Neighborhood Watch Program began to flourish, several small grants were awarded to residents for home and yard revitalization projects, playground equipment was purchased and installed at a multi-housing complex in the site, after school tutoring was offered, and Police Department members attended several neighborhood picnics which were designed to enhance the community/police relationships that had been formed. Over $347,000 of state and federal funding was awarded for this initiative, and Burnsville’s project has been recognized as a model program for other suburban law enforcement agencies to follow.

Equally impressive are the accomplishments Officer Behnken has achieved throughout his policing career.
  • Recognized for the location, confrontation and arrest of a suspect for attempted murder in 1995, Officer Behnken received Burnsville Police Department’s highest award – the Medal of Valor.
  • In 2003, Jef was presented a Distinguished Service Award for the arrest of an armed suspect for a car-jacking incident.
  • As a Tactical Team Member, Officer Behnken is a respected and dedicated team leader. Utilizing his specialized training and expertise in high-risk callouts for the past six years, Jef has participated in the successful resolution of numerous critical incidents.
  • Most recently, a guilty plea was received on a 2002 homicide case. During this murder investigation, Jef not only worked tirelessly, but clearly displayed compassion and concern for the family and friends of the murder victim.

Officer Jef Behnken’s devotion to law enforcement and the community he serves are well in keeping with the highest standards of this department. His tenacious work ethic and willingness to get involved have been a tremendous influence with those he works. Congratulation Jef!

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