For years an unofficial Sweeney Lake Beach has been home to numerous reports of illegal activity, including nudity, narcotics use, intoxication, and assaultive behavior. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to educate beachgoers over the years, on July 10, 2020, the Golden Valley Police Department (GVPD) and Minneapolis Park Police determined it was necessary to take the next step in enforcement.
Decades of experience have shown that beachgoers often have “lookouts” who provide warnings when police are approaching the beach. This allows beachgoers to conceal alcohol, narcotics, and nudity and avoid accountability for their actions.
To collect evidence of illegal activities, the GVPD deployed its Unmanned Aerial System (drone). Sergeant Randy Mahlen then radioed Officers Kristin Hoefling, Dave Staaf, Mike Seafolk, and Beau Hartneck to execute enforcement on the beach. By the time officers got to the main beach, many beachgoers had been warned and had packed up belongings, concealed illegal contraband, and put their clothing back on.
Soon after the officers arrived on scene, many of the 50+ beachgoers became hostile and threatening, making it unsafe for the officers and requiring them to leave the beach. Officers were only able to identify a few of the violators while at the beach.
Over the following weeks, both Mahlen and Hoefling continued investigating the case. They learned that one of the nude men is a sex offender who was on probation at the time of the incident, and they submitted enhanced charges. Hoefling identified one of the hostile beachgoers through social media and submitted charges for obstructing the legal process.
"Sergeant Mahlen and Officers Hartneck, Hoefling, Staaf, and Seafolk all acted with incredible professionalism and poise while being verbally attacked simply for upholding the laws and responding to and investigating illegal activity," said Police Chief Scott Nadeau. "They worked as a group and used appropriate resources to complete a complex and emotionally charged case."
For their actions, the officers were presented with the GVPD’s Unit Citation Award at the Dec 7, 2021 City Council meeting.
See image (Back row from L to R: Sergeant Randy Mahlen, Officers Beau Hartneck, Kristin Hoefling, Mke Seafolk. Front row: Chief Scott Nadeau)