Officers honored for hostage response

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Kristine Goodrich, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
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Apr. 9—MAPLETON — Four law enforcement officers were recognized by a state policing organization for their non-lethal response to a hostage situation in Mapleton in 2019.

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association gave a Medal of Honor to Mapleton officer Andrew Hagen and Blue Earth County sheriff's deputies Matt Date, Bill Davis and Chris Welle.

The medal is given for "sacrifice in a single event which demonstrates bravery, heroism and/or self-sacrifice; clearly distinguishing the individual for gallantry and bravery under life-threatening circumstances."

The award was presented to the officer and deputies at the Mapleton City Council meeting this week.

The officers were honored for disarming a hostage-taker without death or serious injury in September 2019.

"During this incident, officers exercised extreme restraint from the use of deadly force, made split second decisions, and self-sacrifice while facing personal danger and practiced good teamwork," Mapleton Police Chief Ben Honsey said in an announcement. He nominated the officers for the medal.

Troy Blaine Almhjeld stabbed a relative in the wrist and was holding a woman with two knives when officers arrived at his Mapleton residence in 2019, according to court documents. For more than 10 minutes officers attempted to negotiate while Almhjeld told them to kill him.

When Almhjeld started to push a knife into the woman's side, Davis deployed a stun gun and the other officers got the knives and subdued the suspect. Almhjeld and one officer sustained minor cuts during the brief struggle.

"Ultimately their quick decisions, use of less lethal force and going hands-on preserved the life of the suspect who wanted to be killed by law enforcement," Honsey said.

Almhjeld pleaded guilty to kidnapping and is in prison.