This is a post from my blog section “Profiles of True Heroes – Military and Law Enforcement”. I love to go cycling. As I started getting serious about it, I decided to name my routes after people – and who better to dedicate my routes to than the heroes in military and law enforcement?
After completing a route, I would select a hero I had heard about and then write about them. There are three types of people in this post: some gave their service for America and served in the armed forces. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. And some protected the local community and died in the line of duty.
After their story, I included information about the route I dedicated to these heroes. I hope you can learn more about them and gain an understanding of what they have done for us.
Officer Celena Hollis, Patrol Officer, Denver Police Department
This is my first route dedicated to a female law enforcement veteran. Officer Hollis joined the Detroit Police Department in 2001 where she served for four years. In 2005, when her daughter was a toddler, they came to the Denver, where she worked in District 2 (downtown Denver).
She was assigned to a response squad for the Democratic National Convention and was chosen to work on the Street Crimes Attack Team (SCAT). She also received an official commendation for arresting two felons who had just been involved in an aggravated robbery in which an elderly man was seriously injured.
In January 2012, she became president of the Denver Black Officers Organization, and one of her significant initiatives was a bone-marrow drive for the US soldier Mark Jenkins.
Officer Hollis had served with the Denver Police Department for a total of seven years. On June 24, 2012, she was shot during a jazz concert at City Park. Hollis was in uniform, patrolling the concert with other off-duty officers working as security for the event. Seeing a fight between several people, she responded, attempting to break it up and was shot by one of the men.
According to Denver Police Chief Robert White, police arrested the shooter after the incident and found a gun in his possession. It didn’t appear that the shooter targeted and intentionally shot Hollis.
“She was easy to get along with and always had a smile on her face,” said Lt. Ron Thomas, an organization board member.
Terrance Roberts, executive director of Prodigal Son Initiative, said that Hollis grew up in Northeast Park Hill near I-70 and Colorado in Denver, where the nonprofit organization works to keep kids out of gangs.
Roberts said Hollis was a common sight patrolling the streets of Park Hill, “She was very respectful to the kids — she related to them because of her experience being from Detroit,” he said.
Thousands of people packed Denver First Church of the Nazarene in Englewood, including officers from the Denver Police Department and the Detroit Police Department, where the 32-year-old officer began her career, along with such government officials as Gov. John Hickenlooper, US Sen. Michael Bennet and Mayor Michael Hancock.
Denver Police Chief Robert White spoke not just of the commendations Hollis earned while on the force but of her efforts in the community, including her passionate volunteer work for “Especially Me”, a Denver organization that mentors high-school girls in self-worth, dignity and positive values.
The funeral ended with words from her daughter, Amyre. Wearing a bright fuchsia dress that seemed to reflect her mother’s buoyant spirit, the 12-year-old talked about her mother’s love of life, adventure and travel.
“I love her and miss her very much,” she said, “She was very sweet, crazy and also loving. She was a second mom to lots of my friends,”
Looking out into the sea of blue uniforms, Amyre, who sometimes spoke through tears, addressed her mother’s peers.
“I love you guys,” she said, “and she loved you all as well,”
Distance: 14.49 miles
Duration: 1 hours, 22 minutes
Average Pace: 10.6 mph
This was the first route I took with someone else. My good friend Merlin Barnes from church and I had been planning on riding for the last couple of weeks and hadn’t been able to. We almost had to scratch tonight because of the severe rain, hail and tornadoes. However, we just ran into nor more than a few drops of rain. We started at the Platte Canyon parking lot at the intersection of the Centennial and Platte River trails. We were pretty slow going because we were more concentrated on talking than we were on our time. We turned around at Hampden and double backed to our cars. Not only did I get to know my good buddy a bit more but I was able to honor a fallen officer of the Denver Police Department.