Cody Holte was recognized as a “true servant,” who displayed extraordinary leadership and courage, at a ceremony Saturday, June 19, to bestow the 2020 Ray Atol Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award by the American Legion, Department of North Dakota.
The award is given annually to deserving officers in North Dakota communities for their dedication to duty, professionalism, high performance standards, and leadership ability.
The ceremony, hosted by the local American Legion Post 6 at Veterans Memorial Park, was held to honor the Grand Forks police officer who was shot and killed May 27, 2020, at age 29, when he was called to provide emergency assistance for officers who were serving eviction-related paperwork to occupants of an apartment on the city’s south side.
During Saturday’s ceremony, Officer Holte’s widow, Amanda Holte; his brother, Brady Holte and sister Alexis Holte accepted the award on his behalf. Other family members also attended the event that drew dozens of audience members, including representatives of the state’s Congressional delegation; the U.S. Air Force’s Grand Forks Air Force Base Security Forces; the American Legion, Department of North Dakota; and the North Dakota National Guard; and area state legislators, as well as Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski and Police Chief Mark Nelson.
In prepared remarks, Kenny Wiederholt, commander of the American Legion, Department of North Dakota, said he was “truly overwhelmed” by the testimonies and information he received about Holte, in support of the award nomination.
What he read in his research “resulted in an admiration of 1st Lt. Cody Holte that I had not experienced for quite a long time,” he said.
“Cody will always be remembered for his ability to demonstrate personal courage, fortitude, and determination,” Wiederholt, of Gwinner, N.D., told the crowd.
“I also read in an article that Lt. Holte lived the Army values both in and out of the uniform … (he) led by example and set the standard for others to follow.”
Wiederholt also repeated the words of Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson who, in his letter of nomination, described Holte “as a true servant who served his community, asking for nothing in return, and making everyone around him a better person.”
“Chief Nelson wrote that whenever Holte was on duty, there was never anything to worry about,” Wiederholt said.
Holte was “a true Christian,” Wiederholt said, noting that the honoree’s favorite Bible verse was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”
“In return for Cody’s religious and moral beliefs, I believe that he was rewarded with a very fulfilling personal and professional life,” Wiederholt said.
The ceremony also included the placement of a small U.S. flag by the brick, inscribed with Holte's name and branch and dates of military service, along the walkway lined with bricks commemorating other veterans at the park.
Holte was also honorably recognized with the Woodrow W. Keeble Award, presented by the North Dakota National Guard to a Guard soldier who displays courage and determination to protect life, limb or property, he said.
Holte, who had served three years and three months in the police department at the time of his death, was a member of the Grand Forks Sheriff’s Office Regional Water Rescue Team and was an officer in the North Dakota Army National Guard.
The Ray Atol Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award is presented by the American Legion, Department of North Dakota in honor of the late Williston police chief who served in that capacity for 27 years. Ray Atol, who also served as chief deputy sheriff of William County, N.D., was also a member of the 164th Infantry National Guard. He served in the U.S. military’s Seventh Cavalry Division during the Korean Conflict in the 1950s.
He also held several leadership positions in the VFW and state and national American Legion organizations.