- Rick McCrabb Staff Writer
Holly Owens believes she’s right where she belongs.
After graduating from Middletown High School in 1993, Owens was hired as a dispatcher for the Middletown Division of Police the following year. She was in that position for three years, then was hired as a Middletown police officer in July 1997.
Twenty years later, she’s still a police officer, while others hired during the same time have applied and received promotions. Owens said she enjoys being an officer because it allows her to interact with the community.
On Thursday, her dedication to the department was rewarded when she was named Police Officer of the Year during the department’s annual awards banquet at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge 528. She was selected from four finalists, including Detectives Steve Winters and Jon Hoover and Officer Brook McDonald.
It was “a great honor” just to be nominated, Owens said. But winning was “really special,” she said.
Her father, Donnie Owens, was a police officer and lieutenant for 40 years and now works in the Civil Unit of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office; her husband, Denny Jordan is a Middletown police officer; and her daughter, Tyler Owens-Jordan recently was hired as a dispatcher for the BCSO.
Her husband and parents, Donnie and Norma Owens, attended the banquet and posed for pictures with her after the award was presented.
Owens, 42, also recruits for the department at police academies and colleges and “sells Middletown,” said Lt. David Birk, who was hired the same day as Owens. He said she has a great rapport with the community. Some officers excel at issuing speeding tickets or arresting OVI drivers, Birk said. Owens’ niche is community relations, her said.
He called her “a great resource” for the department and the community.
“She does a great job at everything she does,” Birk said.
That’s because Owens would rather be outside her cruiser talking to those on her beat, downtown and the South End. She enjoys handing out stickers to the kids and “straightening things out” if there’s a misunderstanding between the department and the community.
“Making police officers more human” is her goal, she said.
She said Middletown is blessed because the police department and residents have a great relationship, though there are “a few bad ones.”
When she confronts a possible criminal, Owens said she treats them “honest and fair,” and she expects the same respect. She said being a police officer in her hometown is more of a blessing than a curse. Because of her deep roots, she knows most people in the community, and sometimes that means arresting them.
“You have a job to do,” she said.
The department also presented medals of honor to Officers Denny Jordan, Marco Caito and Butler County Deputies Kent Hall and Reggie Bronnenberg for their work on Feb. 27, 2016 when an eighth-grader opened fire in the Madison Jr./Sr. High School cafeteria.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones delivered the keynote address at Thursday’s awards banquet.