Magazine Feature / People

Top cop looking out for her own neighborhood

It never hurts to have a cop as a neighbor. 

DU-area residents have one in Tracie Keesee, the Denver Police Department District 3 commander. She grew up on Evans just minutes from the campus, so she knows the University area as well as she knows her badge number. And what’s more, she’s a DU student. 

“I love the people, the officers here and the members of the community. It’s a pleasure and privilege to serve them,” says Keesee, 42. She’s spent 17 years on the force as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and now as the top cop in the district, a post she took in 2006.

“It’s a wonderful area and school, and it’s great to be back here as the commander,” she says. 

When she’s not fighting to keep bad guys off the street, Keesee’s working on her PhD in DU’s human communication program.

“It took me a while to get used to having an eager graduate student in the front row who polishes her shoes and packs a gun,” says Roy Wood, Keesee’s adviser and chair of the Department of Human Communication Studies.

Wood calls Keesee “an excellent practical scholar” and says she relates what she learns about communication and ethics to her police decision- making and community relations. 

Keesee, a graduate of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., says she became interested in law enforcement when she took a pre-law course as a college freshman at Metropolitan State College of Denver. 

“I just liked the impact law can have on society. It sounded right for me,” she says. 

Keesee’s advice to make the neighborhood safer? “Report any crime. If we know about it, we can work to stop it. Students are already doing a good job of reporting it; they just need to keep it up. And always keep doors and windows locked.” 

She says University Park neighborhood crime is typically property related — burglaries, broken windows and graffiti. 

Keesee praises DU Campus Safety and says its staff does “an excellent job” of communicating with District 3. 

“They are particularly good at being open about what they’re doing, and they’re very responsive to students’ concerns,” Keesee says. 

Campus Safety Director Don Enloe says Keesee made it a priority to meet with him and his staff to discuss safety issues. 

“She brings a lot of energy and cooperation to the job,” Enloe says. “And it’s especially nice to have such a strong relationship with District 3 because we do work closely on many issues in the neighborhood.”

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