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NYPD officer mentors Prior Lake student with eye on police career

In a complicated, challenging time for policing, a New York Police Department officer reeling from a colleague’s killing and a Prior Lake High School student aspiring to the same career stumbled across each other.

Two years later, the NYPD officer traveled 1,000 miles to watch that student graduate.

“She’s one special person,” Nancy Castro, a counterterrorism officer, said of graduating senior Emmanuelle Boschee, who’s been keeping in touch and taking advice from Castro since they met. “I would do it all over again.”

Boschee said she was grateful for Castro’s time, patience and perspective as she’s peppered the officer with questions over the years.

Boschee’s grandfather and uncle were both longtime officers and showed her officers need to be like counselors, helpers and protectors all at once, “so many roles all wrapped up in that one,” she said.

The relationship began in summer 2017, when Boschee and her mother, Danielle, traveled to Washington, D.C., for a student conference and swung by New York to see the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and maybe meet a woman police officer in person.

A few days beforehand, a man had murdered NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia with a bullet through her vehicle window before officers shot him dead, according to The New York Times.

Castro said she had been friends with Familia for several years; Familia had just transferred command posts and was excited to get started. Familia’s role was supposed to mostly be answering phones, but Castro said she wanted to be outside and see the July 4 fireworks. Alexander Bonds walked up and killed her.

“At that point, I just wanted to stay away from the general public,” Castro said, referring to when the Boschees came by. But then she heard around the office that a young woman had asked to meet a woman in the department.

It had been a long search without success until then, Boschee and her mom said, and they were about to leave for Minnesota. So Boschee met Castro with a big smile and, a moment later, tears in her eyes. Castro apologized, confused, then became emotional herself. They and Boschee’s mom were soon all crying.

“She reminded me that there’s another generation of law enforcement that’s coming,” a generation that needs support and guidance, Castro said.

Danielle Boschee in the next several days worked to reach Castro again before sending her a package with a framed photo from their meeting; Castro joked that she shook the box and listened for ticking before opening it. She and Emmanuelle Boschee connected on Facebook and have spoken since.

“This is a gift you simply cannot put a price tag on,” Danielle Boschee said. “It’s just too incredible for it to be coincidental.”

The pair’s mentorship is a microcosm of multiple challenges facing American policing today, including women and minorities in the field and on-the-job violence.

Police killings of black men and women around the country in recent years, including around Minneapolis and New York, have spurred protests and movements against racism and excessive use of force.

An officer shot Philando Castile in his car during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights in 2016, for example. Castile informed the officer he had a firearm and said he wasn’t pulling it out, but the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, nonetheless shot him several times, according to the police dashcam footage.

Meanwhile, attacks like that on Familia have claimed several officers’ lives. Emmanuelle Boschee recalled seeing news reports of the Dallas sniper shooting in 2016 that killed five officers, including one helping a woman taking part in a peaceful march against police violence.

“I saw that and went, I want to be as selfless as that,” Boschee said.

Castro said her department and others have increased training to maintain patience and compassion while serving the public and have added things like body cameras for accountability. She tells Boschee that every call will be different and to be careful and aware that she has options other than weapons.

“Most of all, communication, communication is the key,” Castro said.

Boschee and her mother also said the public needs more understanding and respect for police, especially in dangerous situations.

“People need to put themselves in police officers’ shoes,” Emmanuelle Boschee said.

As for being a woman on the job, Castro said she had to grow a thick skin and was repeatedly challenged by men when she started. Boschee said a man recently doubted if she could manage the job, but that and support from women officers around the region made her more determined.

About one in eight officers around the country were women in 2013, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“You put that strength there and give it what you got,” Castro said. “We can do any job out there.”

Boschee hasn’t decided whether to go into local or federal policing, saying she trusts God will make her path clearer. She’s set to take a gap year in France with Rotary International before college.

“Keep your options open and see what falls,” Castro told her.

Photo by Dan Holtmeyer  

Scott Gray, son of Gray Hobby Farm owners Mary and Rob Gray, holds a pose as a young goat named Phoebe passes under him.

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Prior Lake-Savage board sets stage for June 10 boundary vote

Most members of the Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board said they generally favor an elementary school attendance boundary option that would mainly affect Five Hawks, Jeffers Pond and Grainwood elementary schools.

The board during a study session Monday said it will conduct its final June 10 vote on elementary school attendance boundaries for 2020 on with its original three options, including one labeled C4, the one several members favor.

C4 would swap neighborhoods from Spring Lake Regional Park to Highway 79 from Five Hawks to Jeffers Pond. Developments in a large stretch from southern Prior Lake to St. Catherine and McMahon lakes would swap from Grainwood to Five Hawks.

One of two extra proposals, C2, was favored by several parents attending board meetings and by board members Mary Frantz and Melissa Enger. The board Monday voted down repeated suggestions from Enger to discuss adding options or removing an option for which no members showed support.

The board will decide among options B1, C1 and C4.

“Some of the options, like C2, everybody jumped on,” Frantz said. “I’m not sure why that wasn’t brought forward.”

The options would set attendance boundaries for the new Hamilton Ridge Elementary School, set to open in 2020, and change which neighborhoods attend several others.

Superintendent Teri Staloch said the process changed as more community input was gathered; for instance, C4 was added. Frantz and Enger said they don’t support C4.

Staloch explained why some school capacity projections, an important factor in the boundary decision, changed over the last several months, something that raised some questions among parents.

At the beginning of the process, SAGE students, about 120 total, were not factored into enrollment numbers and had their own line item in board presentations. They’ve been factored into the capacity numbers since the end of April, however, thus updating the percentages.

For example, the Westwood Elementary 2020-2021 capacity utilization percentage changed from 59 percent to 77 percent in the C4 option, the largest such change.

Staloch also said 2019-2020 numbers were removed in later documents because Hamilton Ridge will not open until 2020. The district asked research firm TeamWorks International to re-run capacity projections to ensure it was accurate, Staloch said.

She said the board would likely be considering the same options if SAGE had been factored into the early capacity numbers.

“As a design team, we said we are very confident that either C1 or C3 would have come forward as an option,” Staloch said.

School staff, community members and city representatives reviewed several boundary options in the input team.

B1 and C1, the original plans favored by the team, would redistrict neighborhoods from southeast of the Eagle Creek Avenue and Highway 13 intersection northward to Hamilton Ridge instead of Redtail Ridge Elementary School, among other changes.

Option B1 would separate the Carriage Hills development from Jeffers Pond, a frequently contentious topic among parents attending recent school board meetings. An area around Spring Lake Regional Park would be redistricted from Five Hawks to Jeffers Pond.

C1 would redistrict the same area to Westwood Elementary School.

The board added C4 as a voting option May 6. Board Member Jonathan Drewes on Monday said adding or removing still more options would delay the board vote.

“I’ve wrestled with considering adding other options,” Drewes said. “If I consider other options, am I choosing to do that because I really think we need them or because I want to (for public perception)? Perception is the wrong reason for us to do things. The harder we try to make everybody happy, the more likely we are that we don’t make anybody happy.”