MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association honored a Minneapolis cop with its highest award: Police Officer of the Year.
Officer Mike Kirchen is known by many as the "bike cop," but he does so much more.
He earned the award because of his outreach and recognition around the country as someone who links officers with the communities they serve.
Kirchen has been an officer in Minneapolis for 27 years, the last 10 years spent on the street, on a bike, interacting with kids and members of communities that have strained relationships with law enforcement.
"We run into kids all the time on our bikes and they love to see us, and that's a good thing if they can trust, trust the police," Kirchen said. "If they trust me, then they'll trust another cop."
Kirchen speaks to kids at schools and in the community. He also gives away thousands of bike helmets, and hundreds of bikes.
"He goes to scenes where we have homicides, grief, and tries to bring some normalcy to families who experience trauma," said Deputy Chief Art Knight.
Kirchen say the award is truly an honor.
"It's something that I don't take lightly," Kirchen said. "I know in my mind, in my personal opinion, there are so many other officers in Minneapolis, St. Paul and around the state that could have easily won that award."
Kirchen is known for building bridges every day he puts on the uniform. He works hard to infuse the mission of Bike Cops for Kids into MPD culture.
"We wanted to get these footballs so that other cops can grab these at the precinct, throw them in their squad car, and then some time during the course of their shift just get out of the squad car, time permitting, throw a football around with a kid and then let them keep the football," Kirchen said.
He was also recognized for spreading Bike Cops for Kids, the program he and another officer began in Minneapolis, to other cities across the country.
Chief Knight says MPD is proud to have the states' top cop in its ranks.
"He's a nice resource, and he does it from the heart," Knight said.
Kirchen tells stories of the good things officers are doing across the city on his weekly blog. He says he would not be able to do what he does without community partners. Kirchen thanks Children's Minnesota hospital and the American Academy of Neurology for providing helmets.
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