Uptown beat cop earns Officer of the Year

Credit: Officer Butch Blauert. Photo by Michelle Bruch

“This is my bread and butter right here,” said Officer Bevan “Butch” Blauert as his squad approached Hennepin & Lake. “If it’s in the area, I like to own it. I like to take the call.”

Blauert is Uptown’s day beat officer, and he recently won the police department’s Officer of the Year award.

While out on patrol in June, Uptown UPS store owner Judy Longbottom congratulated him.

“Well-deserved, how cool is that?” she said. “I’ve always felt really good about being in this neighborhood thanks to him.”

“We couldn’t ask for a better beat cop in the neighborhood,” said Mike Peterson, manager of Frattallone’s Ace Hardware at 28th & Hennepin.

Peterson said he was thankful for Blauert’s help in a scam attempted at the store. A customer claimed an employee used a derogatory term for his handicapped child and wanted compensation. Peterson was prepared to act when Blauert arrived at the store and told him the suspect was collecting money all over the metro.

“It saved us. … I wasted hours watching video,” said Peterson. “I was ready to fire someone.”

On a recent weekday, Uptown felt like a small town as Blauert stopped from business to business. At The Ackerberg Group’s office at Calhoun Square, the front desk featured a framed photo of Blauert accepting his award. Virtually everyone Blauert talked to was familiar with the details of a recent hit-and-run in Uptown and asked him for updates on the case.

Before Blauert, Uptown had been without a full-time day beat officer due to budget constraints, and residents had requested one for years. He is one of six day beat officers in the precinct, and the only one assigned to Uptown.

“The fact that Butch has been extremely consistent long-term has been very helpful,” said Maude Lovelle, executive director of the Uptown Association. “Anybody you talk to will say the exact same thing.”

After eight years on the beat, Blauert said he can see at a glance who belongs in the area and who doesn’t. He pointed to a spot where a man often sits hidden in the bushes, which might cause alarm for an outsider. But Blauert said he knows the man, knows that he belongs to a nearby group home, and knows he isn’t a threat. Near Humboldt and The Mall, Blauert pointed out someone who sleeps on a bench every day, as well as a group of peaceful men who sit in the grass and talk on a regular basis.

By contrast, Blauert said he might notice a couple of unfamiliar guys leaving a construction site and have the right instinct that they’re up to something. He also watches for “runner cars” that are parked illegally outside a business. It isn’t uncommon to find a shoplifter rushing out of a store to a waiting car, he said. He gives business employees his direct line, and encourages them to call when someone suspicious is still inside the store.

“What I do is a lot more rewarding,” he said. “It’s not just bouncing from call to call all day long. … Rather than people coming to me I go to them.”

Blauert said he’s often asked whether Uptown is safe.

“It’s one of the safest places in the whole city,” he said. “Most of the crime we deal with is just nuisance stuff.”

Nevertheless, he described Uptown as a target-rich environment, with visitors leaving valuables in cars and hiding purses under jackets.

“That’s like an invitation,” he said. “What’s going to be inside?”

In recent years, Blauert has spent more time enforcing bike-related rules, telling cyclists not to run red lights and not to bike the wrong way down a one-way street.

“If you can do it in a car, you can do it in a bike,” he said.

Texting laws also come as a surprise to people, he said. It is illegal to text anytime in traffic, he said, even at a red light.

Blauert said he went into law enforcement 23 years ago because he liked the job, and he liked the action. He spent 11 years on the SWAT team, where he acted on high-risk warrants, handled drug raids and met people barricaded in their homes. Blauert is one of 60 officers trained in crisis intervention. He said he’s trained to deal with the mentally ill — he meets people hearing voices or having a particularly bad day — and people who are suicidal.

Blauert’s nickname came early in his career.

“An older officer said to me, ‘What’s your name, kid?'” Upon learning his name, the officer asked, “What kind of name is Bevan? You need a nickname.” Blauert said he had a terrible haircut fresh out of rookie school that earned him the nickname.

“Soon everybody forgot my name was Bevan and called me Butch,” he said.

In 2014, the year of service that won him Officer of the Year, Blauert had a string of good luck finding suspects wanted by police.

In one instance, a man was stealing from multiple Uptown businesses and returning the items for cash, according to reports. Blauert recognized the crime pattern and developed a suspect description. He located the suspect and found that he was also wanted in an attempted robbery in Stevens Square, in which the man struggled to wrest open the car door of a women who refused to give up her purse.

Insp. Todd Loining said each precinct nominates one individual for Officer of the Year, and the single winner is chosen out of five citywide candidates.

“Officer Blauert is an outstanding professional, highly motivated, dedicated MPD Officer who is always willing to ‘Go the extra mile’ to help someone out,” Loining said in an email.

While on patrol, Blauert recognized one man crossing the street and said he’s caused trouble in the past. The man took a long look at Blauert and waved.

“How often are you going to get a bad guy you’ve dealt with before wave at you?” he said. “It’s because I treated him decent.”