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New East Side senior police commander’s an East Side veteran
Newly designated senior commander for the St. Paul Police Department’s Eastern District, Matt Toupal, has hit the ground running with just over a month under his belt.
And while the position is new to him, the territory is not -- he’s spent about half his 25-year career on the East Side, and was a long-time partner of the late Gerald Vick. Vick was an East Side cop who worked tirelessly on issues of sex trafficking, and was killed while working undercover near an East Side bar.
Toupal said he decided to become a cop after he was inspired by an old baseball coach, who was also a police officer.
Toupal started out on the West Side before being transferred to the Eastern District after two years. From there, he worked on the East Side until Vick was shot on May 6, 2005.
“After he got killed, I needed a break,” Toupal said. So, he worked in the Central District, and for a unit called GRID, or Getting Residents Involved Daily, before eventually getting promoted to a commander in the Western District.
Now, he’s back on the East Side.
“It feels like I haven’t even left,” Toupal said, explaining that he’s been running into many familiar faces.
A lot of the learning curve has been taken off thanks to past experience in the district, he said.
But nonetheless, he’s got his work cut out for him, a big part of which is getting plugged in with community members, he said.
He points to events such as the Safe Summer Night series, where police officers mingle with residents in a casual setting, grilling with them and chatting, and engaging kids -- “so they can see police in a positive light,” Toupal said. Police are distributing flyers to thousands of homes in advance of the events, talking to neighbors, hoping to make connections with them.
He said he hopes to continue to push for further community engagement, and also make the police in the area more flexible.
Through grant funding, he’s pushed to expand the district’s Community Response Team to all of the officers -- officers can opt to work overtime as needed to address escalated crime and keep up with the patterns of any youth violence that might emerge. So far, Toupal noted, there haven’t been the same level of outbursts of youth violence like last summer.
When he’s not working, Toupal spends time with his family and also likes to do some four wheeling, running, and weight lifting. He’s also fixing up a foreclosed home in the suburbs as a hobby, and plans to sell it once he’s finished.
But for now, it’s long weeks on the job as he gets acquainted with his new position.
Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.