Denver Sheriff Families Through The Generations

Published on November 15, 2022

L.C. Owens and his daughter, Sgt. Sonya Gillespie smiling at the camera while in uniform

The Owens Family

Anyone employed at the DSD after 1957 would have found themselves working alongside a member of the Owens family. For 65 years, the Owens family legacy has been intertwined with that of the Denver Sheriff Department. So, how did it all start? 

As a young man, L.C. Owens graduated with a degree from the Sturm College of Law, a professional graduate law school of the University of Denver. During those times, opportunities to practice law were scarce for African Americans, prompting L.C. to join the DSD.  

Deputy Owens worked at the Denver Health Medical Center and the Civil Unit before retiring in 1987. In 1983, his daughter Stephanie Gillespie, joined him at the DSD (pictured). She was well known for being the commissary officer and, later, the sergeant at the Denver County Jail before she retired, having spent 28 years with the department.

In 1992, Sonya Gillespie – Stephanie's daughter and L.C.’s granddaughter – joined the department; she is currently the Chief of Administration. In 2022, Chief Gillespie is celebrating her 30th anniversary at the DSD and is proudly serving on the Board of Directors for the prestigious American Jail Association.  

A photo montage of the Owens Family Generations at the Denver Sheriff Department.
Left: Sergeant Stephanie Laing (L) and Chief Sonya Gillespie (R); Right: Sergeant Stephanie Gillespie (L) and Chief Sonya Gillespie (R)

In 2014, Stephanie Laing – Chief Sonya Gillespies' cousin and L.C.’s granddaughter – joined the DSD and was later promoted to Sergeant in 2019. Sergeant Laing is currently a recruiter for the department and enjoys finding new ways to employ the very best at the DSD. 

The Line Family

Since the early 1980s, the Line family has been a fixture at the DSD; however, family ties to public safety – fire service and law enforcement – date back even further. Brothers Dana and Roy Line, both retired, are the grandsons of former Douglas County Undersheriff (1956 - 1964), Bryant “Beans” Starks. Beans’ role as undersheriff followed a career in the United States Army, which started during WW1, where he fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the Battle of Saint-Mihiel.   

Deputy Dana Line joined the DSD in 1983 with hopes of a better life for his family, often commenting on how he wanted his kids to look up to him for his career choice. Dana was assigned to the Denver County Jail and was most often found working at the main gate. He retired in 2014, after 31 years, proud of his service to the city and having enjoyed the responsibilities and demands of the job. 

Line Family Generations photo with Vince Line and Dana Line
Left: Chief Vincent Line; Right: Deputy Dana Line (L) and Chief Vince Line (R)

Dana’s son-in-law, Brad Burrows, and son, Vince, both signed on with the DSD. Brad started in 1992, concluding his service with Denver when he moved to Minnesota in 2004. Vince joined the DSD in 2000 for a short time, following active duty in the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Mounted Unit and worked at the county jail and Pre-Arraignment Detention Facility (PADF) before heading to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO). While there, he rose through the ranks to Bureau Chief after working in detentions and patrol and serving on many special teams including Peer Support, Gang Intervention, Disturbance Control, Wildland Fire, and the SWAT team. Vince led all major components of the ACSO prior to returning to the DSD as Chief of Operations in 2020, where he continues to serve. Chief Line’s wife, Deb, also joined the DSD in 2000 and served as a deputy with the Mounted Unit until 2001. 

Line Family Generations photo with Roy Line the first and Roy Line the second
Left: Sergeant Roy Line II; Right: Deputy Roy Line I

Longing to follow in Beans’ footsteps, Deputy Roy Line began his career with the DSD in 1984, starting at the County Jail where he was assigned to the housing units. During his tenure with the department, he worked state transports, became a Field Training Officer (FTO), and joined the Classifications Unit. Roy then transferred to the Downtown Detention Center upon its opening and continued working in Classifications until his retirement in 2012, having honorably served for 28 years. Roy was never prouder than when both of his children joined the DSD. His daughter, Deputy Amanda Steckman, joined the DSD in 2002 and worked at both the County Jail and Downtown Detention Center. Amanda left the agency in 2022 after 20 years and is married to Deputy Dave Steckman who has been with the department since 1996 and continues to serve. Roy’s son, Deputy Roy Line II, signed on in 1999 after active duty in the U.S. Air Force, serving on the Mounted Unit, as an FTO, a firearms instructor and driving instructor, and in the Home Detention program. Deputy Roy Line II was promoted to sergeant in 2013 and has worked at the County Jail and the Downtown Detention Center. Sergeant Line currently supervises the Civil Unit, marking 22 years with the department. Sergeant Line’s mother-in-law, Nancy Hamilton, also served as a deputy from 2001-2002.