GRAND FORKS — "I've cried more in the past few months than I have in years," said Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson.
He said it has been a difficult two and a half months as he tries to guide his department through this tragedy. There's been a lot of mental health monitoring as officers continue their mission of keeping Grand Forks safe.
"(We're) not stigmatizing anyone who was having a problem with it. If they needed the time off, we didn't set a time frame; it was when you feel like you are ready (to return)," he explained.
Nelson has been with the Grand Forks Police Department since 1988. May 27 was the only day in his career when all 109 members of the department were called back to the station. The chief delivered the news in the basement of the police department.
"Full admission: I couldn't keep it together. It was a very emotional moment. As a leader, you can't forget you are a human being as well," Nelson said.
Even though more than two months have passed, the chief said there are days it seemed like badge #639 is still there to protect and serve. Officer Holte's #13 cruiser is still used for daily patrols.
"There's still the mailbox with his badge number on it, or just the other day one of my officers was at the public service center and went to log in to a computer, and the last person to use that computer, being it was a common use computer, was his name that popped up. Those little reminders can be kind of stingy," Nelson said.
He misses the daily banter with Holte. He said the 29-year-old was an easy hire for him. He was a devout Christian, a family man, a member of the North Dakota National Guard just like him.
There was one other thing that separated him from the other applicants.
"You could be the best shot, the fastest driver, you can be everything, but that 'it' factor, being able to put someone to ease in the public, being able to be a person outside of being a cop, that was Cody," Nelson said.
He said Holte was a true example of the nobility of being a police officer.
"Without even thinking, officers went in to where gunfire was — instead of going away from it — in order to help fellow law enforcement officers in need. If that's not inspiration for you as a younger officer, then maybe you need to look for a new profession, because I don't know if I want you working for me," Nelson said.
Officers know how important it is to be out on the streets, which he said has helped them in the healing process.
"He was always looking to improve, so the best honor we can give Cody is go out and do what we do everyday and continue to improve on it and honor his legacy," Nelson said.