October 2023 – Every summer, Edina Police Department officers fan out to engage with residents at neighborhood block parties held in conjunction with the national “Night to Unite” campaign. On Aug. 1, 2023, Officer Ryan Banaszewski attended one such gathering hosted by the York Condominium Association. It was not his first, but it may go down as the most memorable.
Jerry Hutchinson, who coordinated the party, recalls it this way. “As part of Night to Unite, Ryan gave a brief talk around safety tips and then started taking questions from the audience.” As that semi-formal talk continued, Hutchinson witnessed another attendee wobble and fall to the ground. “It seemed to be a medical emergency of some kind.”
Banaszewski immediately paused what he was doing and rushed over to help the woman. He then radioed for an ambulance to provide medical assistance. “It was impressive to see, and not just because he was so calm and efficient,” Hutchinson shared. “Ryan had been in the middle of talking to people about condo issues; but when other duties called, he flipped from informational to first responder mode incredibly [quickly].” (The woman ultimately made a full recovery.)
Banaszewski’s presence that day was certainly fortuitous, but his assignment to the York Condominium Association for Night to Unite was no coincidence. In addition to his patrol duties, Banaszewski is a designated Neighborhood Engagement Officer.
“You can think of engagement officers as the police point person for an Edina neighborhood – or for a multi-housing complex like the condos on York,” Banaszewski explained. The program’s intent is to offer residents and property managers an EPD contact with whom they can develop a relationship and feel comfortable reaching out to at any time with community safety questions or concerns.
Officer Banaszewski joined the Edina Police Department in November 2018, shortly after completing his law enforcement education through Inver Hills Community College and Hennepin Technical College. Although he had prior field experience from part-time roles as Community Service Officer for the City of Woodbury and as a Reserve volunteer for Washington County, “I say that being patrol officer here at the Edina Police Department [is] my first real cop job.”
Banaszewski agreed to take on neighborhood engagement responsibilities in 2019, “immediately after my probationary period ended,” he said. “I’m the kind of person who likes to stay busy” – and also, the role seemed a great opportunity to learn more about and deepen ties within the community.
In addition to the York Condominium Association in the southeast corner of Edina, Banaszewski’s assigned areas currently include the Sunnyslope Neighborhood on the north end of town.
Residents contact Banaszewski for a wide range of reasons: for clarity around local ordinances, to ask about various crime statistics and even for help fixing a broken garage door. “Occasionally at York, someone will report suspicious activities around [the Promenade], and I can put in a request for an extra patrol. It’s often things like that.”
Hutchinson, who organizes the Night to Unite block party, also leads the York Condominium Association’s security committee and serves as Banaszewski’s main liaison at the complex. He knows a good officer when he sees one. Prior to retirement, Hutchinson, too, served in law enforcement, including more than 35 years with the City of Burnsville.
“I speak for myself and others when I say that Ryan has really impressed us with his demeanor – his kindness and professionalism. He answers residents’ questions knowledgably … and so patiently.”
He adds that, rather than thinking it a chore, Banaszewski approaches his periodic meetings with condo residents as someone who is genuinely interested. “One time he brought a K9 officer with him. More recently, he had the [City] Manager. This takes time and [shows] care.”
In recognition of Officer Banaszewski’s diligent efforts over the last four years, Hutchinson nominated him for the 2023 Mayor’s Community Involvement Commendation. It is awarded to a City employee for “outstanding volunteer service to the community above and beyond his or her position at the City.”
“I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving.”