Getting awards isn't something police officers are thinking about while they're doing their jobs, said Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson.
"But on the other hand, this isn't an award for me, this is an award for all of us as a Grand Forks PD family," he said. "I think it's an affirmation that what we're doing every day matters."
The Daughters of Colonial Wars of North Dakota presented the Grand Forks Police Department with the 2020 American Heroes Award in a brief ceremony Friday afternoon, Aug. 14. Presenting the award to Nelson was Nancy Legerski, the North Dakota chair for the American Heroes Award.
Nelson said he sees the award as an honor to the memory of Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year.
"You guys are all heroes," he said, addressing the officers in the room. "But Cody made the ultimate sacrifice to be that hero, and for them to step forward and for them to say 'you know what, we really want to make sure we can recognize that,' that's a big deal."
Holte died on May 27 after a routine call erupted in violence. According to police documents, two Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies were attempting to enforce an eviction notice at a south Grand Forks apartment when one of the tenants opened fire.
Holte was one of two Grand Forks Police Officers who responded to the deputies' call for help. During the gunfire exchange, Holte and the second tenant of the apartment were both killed. A Grand Forks County Sheriff's corporal and the alleged shooter were injured as well.
The injured corporal has since recovered and returned to work. The alleged shooter is awaiting trial.
Holte, 29, who had been with the Grand Forks Police for three years, is the fourth Grand Forks Police officer to be killed while on duty in Greater Grand Forks law enforcement history. He is the second GFPD officer to be killed, and the first since 1966.
"When you think of a policeman, you think of bravery. They're out solving crimes, serving the citizens of the community, but, sometimes, you run into some dangerous situations," Legerski said. "And you guys have had your share this year."
The Daughters of Colonial Wars is a national organization for people who can trace their heritage in the United States to the founding of Jamestown in 1607 up to the start of the Revolutionary War. North Dakota has one chapter, made up of about 50 people in mostly the Grand Forks and Fargo areas.