The Distinguished Public Leadership Award was established to recognize public leaders who—through their vision, leadership, and knowledge—have influenced traffic safety policy directions that benefit society. Recipients are selected by Minnesota TZD; external nominations are not solicited for this award.
This award was given to two individuals this year in recognition of their commitment and leadership to improve traffic safety through community policing and engagement.
Chief Jeff Tate
Chief Jeff Tate has been with the Shakopee Police Department since 1998 and was appointed Chief in 2009. He has been a member of the state DWI Task Force for the last 12 years. Under his leadership, the Shakopee PD has twice been named MADD Minnesota’s Agency of the Year and has also received two MADD Minnesota Policy Setter Awards for traffic safety programs it started: the Free Sober Ride Home and the Recovery Assistance Program.
The Shakopee PD was one of the first in Scott County to use the “Lights On!” Program, which fosters positive interactions between vehicle drivers and officers during traffic stops. Chief Tate has spoken on behalf of the “Lights On!” program nationally and it is now in 13 other states. In addition, the Shakopee PD has received the International Association of Chiefs of Police Excellence in Community Policing Award in 2015 and 2020, serving as a testament to Chief Tate’s passion for building trust and engagement with the community he serves.
Sheriff Kevin Torgerson
Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson has served with the Sheriff’s Office for more than 36 years and was elected sheriff in 2014. Since then, he has led the office to partner with the community and various organizations to advance trust, improve transparency, and establish itself as a regional leader. Sheriff Torgerson continues to champion a strong traffic safety emphasis as part of a larger public safety strategy. This has included enhanced participation in community events such as National Night Out and strong traffic safety messaging.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Olmsted County experienced a significant increase in fatality crashes. Rather than pull back from traffic enforcement, Sheriff Torgerson put increased emphasis on his own agencies’ traffic enforcement unit, leading by example. He was instrumental in hiring both a full-time media specialist and a coordinator to oversee TZD and OTS-funded enforcement. He also actively participates in the DPS-OTS DWI Officer Grant program.
- Paul Aasen, President, Minnesota Safety Council
- Kristine Hernandez, Statewide Minnesota TZD Program Coordinator
- Mark Uglem
- Frank Hornstein
- Jim Carlson
- Scott Newman
- Lisa Kons, Traffic Programs Manager, Minnesota Safety Council
- David Bernstein, Minnesota DWI Task Force chair and Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney
- Gary Kroells, West Hennepin Public Safety Department
- Gordy Pehrson, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety
- Captain Michael Hanson, Minnesota State Patrol
- Lynne Goughler, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- Tim Held, Minnesota Department of Health
- Tom Sorel, AAA Minneapolis
- Steve Simn, University of Minnesota
- Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State
- Michael Campion, Department of Public Safety
- Jean Ryan, Department of Public Safety
- Jim Carlson, Minnesota Senate
- Melissa Hortman, Minnesota House of Representatives
- Cheri Marti, Department of Public Safety
- Steve Murphy, Minnesota Senate
- Kim Norton, Minnesota House of Representatives