Police Awards and Memorials

 

Honoring Our Fallen Officers

Officer Celena Hollis

Fallen Officer Celena Hollis Celena Hollis was born to Dorothy and Vincent Hollis in Detroit, MI on October 8, 1979. She was an honor roll student through most of high school and then attended Ferris State University.

In 1999, she became the mother of a beautiful daughter named Amyre (A-mere). In May 2001, she joined the Detroit Police Department as an officer.

During her time with the Detroit PD she was recognized for her outstanding work, but pursued a position with the Denver Police Department with the goal of providing a better life in a safer environment for Amyre.

Celena joined the Denver PD in 2005 and quickly became an effective and well loved officer. She was not content to serve only in her role as an officer, but also gave to her community through the Denver Kids organization and eventually as President of the Black Police Officer's Organization.

Celena's life was tragically cut short on June 24, 2012, when she was shot and killed while breaking up a fight in City Park.

On June 24, 2012, Denver Police Officer Celena Hollis, badge # 05162 was working a foot patrol at the Jazz In The Park concert in Denver City Park with several other officers. At approximately 8:08 p.m. officers responded to a disturbance in the park where she was shot and killed. The suspect was contacted by responding officers and arrested.

Watch a video about Officer Hollis

Detective Donald "Donnie" Young II

Fallen Officer Donnie Young On May 8, 2005, Detective Donald Young was shot from behind and killed in the line of duty.

On May 8, 2005 Detectives Donald Young and Jack Bishop were working off-duty and in uniform at a baptismal celebration. The evening had been fairly quiet except for one uninvited male who had to be escorted by the officers out of the hall where the party was taking place. Although scheduled to leave at midnight the officers were asked by the hall manager to stay an additional hour to help ensure an orderly conclusion to the event.

At approximately 1 AM the officers were at the front entrance of the hall observing the crowd inside. A suspect, later identified as Raul Gomez-Garcia, approached the officers from behind and fired a barrage of shots. Detective Bishop was hit in the back but the round was slowed by his body armor. Detective Young was fatally wounded, shot twice in the back and once in the head.

Although painfully wounded, Detective Bishop attempted to pursue the fleeing suspect but was unable to locate him outside the hall. The suspect was later arrested in Mexico where he had fled to hide.

Officer Dennis M Licata

Fallen Officer Dennis Licata Motorcycle Officer Licata died as a result of injuries suffered when his motorcycle collided with a car at about 2:15pm on September 6, 2000.

Officer Licata and his partner, Officer Roberson, were responding to a construction accident at 18th Avenue and Washington Street. Just west of Shoshone on 13th Avenue, the railroad crossing signals were flashing as the officers approached.

Officer Licata accelerated through the crossing and collided with the passenger side of a Honda that was making a left turn from westbound 13th onto southbound Shoshone.

Officer Bruce L VanderJagt

Fallen Officer Bruce VanderJagt On November 12, 1997, Officer VanderJagt was gunned down in a hail of bullets by Matthaeus Jaehnig, who was shooting at officers with a fully automatic weapon, when police responded to a burglary at Buffalo Creek, in the foothills southwest of Denver. This led to a pursuit by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department that ended at a condominium complex on Monaco Street in south Denver.

By this time, Denver Police officers had become involved. Suspect Matthaeus Jaehnig ran into an apartment yard, and from that position, he began shooting at officers with a fully automatic weapon. When Officer VanderJagt approached the yard, he was gunned down in a hail of bullets by Jaehnig. Three hours later, Jaehnig was found dead in the yard. He had committed suicide with VanderJagt's service revolver. 

Officer Ronald L Deherrera

Fallen Officer Ronald Deherrera On March 26, 1997, Training Officer Victor Baca and Officer DeHerrera were responding in their patrol vehicle to a call of suspicious activity in a parking lot. DeHerrera had just graduated from the Denver Police Academy and was on his second day of patrol. They were on Federal Boulevard at 19th Avenue when a car ran a stop sign and struck the passenger side of the patrol vehicle. The car had been stolen and was driven by 17 year old Gil Webb, who was traveling between 65 and 80 miles per hour when he struck the police car. The patrol car hit the curb and then struck a tree.

Baca received minor injuries and was released from the hospital later that day. Webb was hospitalized with a broken neck. DeHerrera was rushed to the hospital, and after a six-day battle, succumbed to his injuries on April 1, 1997. Webb was charged and found guilty of vehicular homicide, aggravated assault and auto theft. 

Officer Shawn Leinen

Fallen Officer Shawn Leinen In the early morning hours of February 25, 1995, police were called to the area of the 300 block of East Cedar Avenue to check out a report of shots fired. Officer Leinen arrived at the scene, and while questioning the woman who made the report, Leinen spotted a young man leaving a nearby car. The youth, 16-year-old Raymond Gone, took off running and Leinen chased him between two houses. Then, Leinen radioed in that he had the suspect in custody and that he needed backup. After a period of silence, Leinen transmitted a final radio call of shots fired. As he reported that, other officers who were arriving on the scene heard shots reverberate through the neighborhood.

Officer Leinen was killed by two bullets fired into his head by a .25 automatic Raven. Gone was apprehended about 13 minutes after the shooting and was later taken into custody. Gone was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of Officer Leinen. 


Department Awards

The Denver Police Department recognizes that its employees consistently perform their duties at a highlevel, however, sometimes the actions of its employees rise above the standard expected, meriting special recognition. The department also acknowledges that the total police mission could not be accomplished without the efforts of all its employees, both sworn and non-sworn. Furthermore, the department recognizes the vital and beneficial contribution made by its volunteers and citizens.

Types of Awards

Medal of Honor

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual for an act of outstanding bravery or heroism by which the individual has demonstrated in great degree the characteristics of selflessness, personal courage, and devotion to duty at the risk of his/her own life. The individual’s actions substantially contributed to the saving of, or attempted saving of a human life.

This is the highest and most prestigious department award and there must be no margin of doubt or possibility of error in awarding this honor. To justify the decoration, the actions must clearly render the individual conspicuous by an act so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes heroism beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery. It must be the type of deed that, if not done, would not subject the individual to any justified criticism.

A posthumous award may be made to an individual who has lost his/her life under conditions where the officer endangered themselves in circumstances consistent with good police practices

Medal of Valor

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual for an act, in the face of great danger, wherein valor, courage, and bravery are demonstrated over and above that normally demanded and expected.

This is the second highest department award and to warrant this distinctive decoration, the act must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and by its nature involved the saving of a human life, or attempted saving of a human life, the prevention of a serious crime, or the apprehension of a person who committed a serious crime. The action must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous.

Preservation of Life

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual who performs an act of heroism, demonstrates good judgment, zeal, or ingenuity over and above what is normally demanded and expected, to preserve the life of another during a critical, volatile, or dangerous encounter while protecting the safety and security of the public and his or her fellow officers.

For purposes of this award, a critical, volatile, or dangerous encounter will refer to any rapidly unfolding and dynamic incident where the subject is armed and the ability or intent to use lethal force is present.

Distinguished Service Cross

Awarded by the Chief of Police to members who are cited for gallantry not warranting a Medal of Honor or a Medal of Valor. The heroic act(s) performed must render the individual conspicuous and well above the standard expected.

Purple Heart Award

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual who is seriously or critically injured while performing a heroic and/or police action. This award will be limited to those cases resulting from attack by an assailant, personal combat, or the performance of an act of valor.

This Purple Heart can be awarded in conjunction with other awards.

STAR (Superior Tactics and Response) Award

Awarded to an individual who, through exceptional tactics, acts to successfully resolve a critical incident, thereby promoting a culture of safety and professionalism to which all officers should aspire. The tactics displayed or performed must be conspicuously effective and above the standard expected.

Exceptional tactics includes utilization of proper tactics and appropriate force which mitigated the level of danger and which were directly responsible for preventing the incident from escalating to a deadly force situation.

Police Merit Award

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual who distinguishes themselves with exceptional meritorious service. Through personal initiative, tenacity, and great effort acts to solve a major crime or series of crimes, or develops a program or plan which contributes significantly to the department’s objectives and goals.

Excellence in Crime Prevention

Awarded to an individual who demonstrates personal initiative and ingenuity by developing a program or plan which contributes significantly to the department’s crime prevention strategy, or through innovation combats issues affecting the community.

Lifesaving Award

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual who, through exceptional knowledge and behavior, performs a physical act which saves the life of another person and there is no danger to the individual’s life.

Community Service Award

Awarded to an individual who, by virtue of sacrifice and expense of his/her time or personal finance, fosters or contributes to a valuable and successful program in the area of community service or affairs, or who acts to substantially improve police/community relations through contribution of time and effort when not involved in an official capacity.

Official Commendation

Awarded to an individual who by exemplary conduct and demeanor, performs at a superior level of duty, exhibiting perseverance with actions resulting in a significant contribution to the department and/or improvement to the quality of life in the community.

Chief's Unit Citation

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an entire unit, section, or bureau/district of the department whose members perform their assigned function in an unusually effective manner.

Innovation in Police Service Unit Citation

Awarded by the Chief of Police to a division, district, or bureau in recognition of innovative efforts and support of the community or department to address social harms, improve resiliency and wellness in our members, or improve prosocial policing practices. Innovations should further the department’s efforts to be the safest, most equitable city in the country.

Excellence in Crime Prevention Unit Citation

Awarded by the Chief of Police to a division, district, or bureau in recognition of exceptional, quantifiable policing efforts to address and reduce the frequency of adverse impacts of one or more crime types within the Denver community. Programs or focused efforts can be related to education, alternatives to traditional criminal justice approaches, community or agency collaborations, and/or enforcement.

Community Hero Award

Awarded to a community member who provided assistance to a law enforcement officer in response to a criminal or emergency incident, placing themselves in danger of bodily injury.

Outstanding Volunteer Award

Awarded by the Chief of Police to an individual who, by virtue of sacrifice and expense of his or her time, fosters or contributes to a valuable and successful program in the area of the department’s mission, vision and values, or who acts to substantially improve police/community relations through contribution of time and effort when not involved in an official capacity.

Officer of the Year Award

This award will be presented annually to an officer who has represented the department in all facets of law enforcement with a commitment to excellence, in support of the mission and values of the organization. The officer has consistently persevered in the prevention of crime and demonstrated initiative, leadership, and dedication to the law enforcement profession.

This award may be presented annually to an individual officer, technician, corporal, detective, sergeant, or command officer, or as determined by the Chief of Police.

Career Service Employee of the Quarter

This award will be presented quarterly to a CS employee who continually performs their duties through perseverance and dedication to excellence and outstanding customer service. Demonstrating a positive attitude when interacting with others and highly motivated with innovative ideas to improve efficiency, benefiting the department and community. Documentation of positive customer feedback will be considered for this award.

Career Service Employee of the Year

This award will be presented annually to a CS employee who has represented the department in all facets of service with a commitment to excellence, in support of the values of the organization, and a desire to represent the department in the manner in which they were hired.

Volunteer of the Year

This award will be presented annually to a volunteer in the program with a distinguished commitment to excellence, in support of the values of the organization.