American Legion Outstanding Law Officer leads programs

By Tim Engstrom

LINO LAKES — There are many young, new police officers doing incredible work, and they don’t make the 10 o’clock news.

Officer Shelby Bonczek of the Lino Lakes Public Safety Department is one such officer. She is this year’s Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer for The American Legion Department of Minnesota. She will be at the Department Convention in Willmar in July to be recognized.

Bonczek has been a facilitator for many community education programs and lead coordinator for crime prevention initiatives. This includes the annual Night to Unite event. In 2023, she coordinated with more than 30 block captains to facilitate 39 block parties, with police and fire in attendance at each one.

She placed herself as the primary point of contact for three large residential and elder care facilities in town. This partnership led to many seminars and speaking engagements, bringing together people who the police might not otherwise meet. It led to education on how to prevent crime, such as identity fraud attempts among seniors.

Shelby Bonczek

Bonczek was the first officer on scene at a cardiac arrest in 2023, arriving within three minutes of the dispatch call. Right away, she began resuscitation efforts. Additional help arrived, and the resident survived.

She also has been known to take on challenges that many officers avoid. She volunteered to represent the department on an Anoka County committee dealing with records management. In addition, she took on the extra duties of evidence technician for the department, something few others have done.

She has been recognized previously for finding an illegally loaded handgun, which later was determined to be a stolen firearm from another state.

Lino Lakes Post 566 is the sponsor of her nomination for Outstanding Law Officer, and she was chosen by the Department of Minnesota’s Law and Order Committee of Pat Logan, Jeff Brokaw and Susan Edwards.

Bonczek grew up in the Isanti area. She possesses a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. During college, she was a part-time community service officer for the Duluth Police Department.

She attended a law enforcement skills program at Fond Du Lac Tribal & Community College. She was hired by the city of Lino Lakes in October 2021.