State Patrol thanks Minnesotans for stepping up to save lives​

Feb. 9, 2024
Trooper of the Year Nick Diederich with Commissioner and Colonel DPS Commissioner Bob Jacobson, left, and Col. Matt Langer, right, presented Trooper Nick Diederich, center, with the Trooper of the Year award Thursday during the Minnesota State Patrol Awards Ceremony.

Trooper Nick Diederich initiated 1,591 traffic stops in 2023 — but one stands out.

During the stop, the young adult Diederich had pulled over broke down and had a mental health crisis. Diederich stayed with them during the crisis, and the two had a long roadside conversation. Diederich gave the driver his business card, so they could call and talk any time. The interaction helped the driver get the professional help they needed.

It is incidents like this that make Diederich our Minnesota State Patrol's Trooper of the Year. The award was presented to the trooper who best demonstrates work performance, initiative, leadership and effective interpersonal relations at the Minnesota State Patrol Awards Ceremony, which took place Thursday.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Minnesota and all who visit the land of 10,000 lakes. I am truly honored to accept this award," Diederich said. “Take care of one another and, most importantly, stay safe out there."

The State Patrol recognized Diederich for his work to keep our roads safe and serve Minnesotans. Not only does Diederich conduct traffic safety presentations at many high schools and other venues, but he also goes out of his way to help those he interacts with during the course of his regular duties. Multiple people who were stopped by Diederich reached out to say they were impressed with his professional demeanor and approach to the stop, and families from several crashes thanked him for being helpful and compassionate to their families during such difficult times.

Diederich was among troopers, officers from partner agencies, civilian employees and good Samaritans who were in the right place at the right time that were honored at the ceremony.

“These award-winners showed initiative and leadership both on and off the job. They saved lives, showing courage in challenging circumstances, and went above and beyond in their duties, demonstrating the excellence all Minnesota State Patrol members strive for," said Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer.

Some of those recognized include:

  • Jeramy Gerard and Jordan Larson, who were passing by while a trooper was attempting to arrest a suspect. The suspect was on top of the trooper when the two stopped to help. Gerard and Larson put their own safety aside to help the trooper in what was potentially a life-threatening situation.
  • Emily Kunkel, who stopped and offered troopers assistance after coming upon the scene of a serious crash, giving a crash victim CPR. After fire department personnel took over, Emily helped another victim with serious injuries and remained on scene until all of the victims were being cared for. By taking the initiative at a very chaotic scene, Kunkel contributed to the victims' chances of survival.
  • Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Majewski, who pulled the unconscious driver of a burning semi to safety. Shortly thereafter, the cab became engulfed in flames. Without Majeski's intervention, the driver likely would not have survived. The driver also received an award from the State Patrol.

Read the full list of award recipients.​​​​​​​