Life Changing Career

Denise Cummings

Denise Cummings
Police Officer, Aurora (CO) Police Department

My story starts with my Uncle Nick who was a police officer for Cicero, Illinois, Police Department. He used to let me dry fire his revolver at a target when I was only 10 years old. I knew I would be an officer someday inspired by his stories. I tried another career first and was bored silly so when I turned 25, I decided it was time to live my dream. I applied with the Aurora, Colorado, Police Department in 1977 and was put on a hiring list. Only 20 people were going to be hired from that list and I was down at #42.

I then applied and was accepted as a reserve officer (voluntary position) for the same department hoping it would improve my chances next time I applied. I had four months of training as a reserve officer and just before graduation, I got word that for the first time ever, the city was hiring another 20 officers from the same list! I was still #42, but I was called up for the regular department due to others on the list leaving. I graduated as a reserve officer on May 19, 1978, did my first assignment as security for a parade on May 21, 1978, resigned the reserves after the parade and started the police academy on May 22, 1978. I went through the very first FTO program they had and loved it.

I had a substitute FTO during my training for just one night and he scared me, and I did not like him at all. Three years later, I married him! Talk about life changing! We had three children together. My son is a medically-retired Army soldier with full pension and is now a detention officer for Aurora. My daughter is a MA2 (cop!) in the Navy.

I worked as a patrol officer for a year, got invited to traffic after handling a fatal accident solo while still in training and worked graveyard on the DUI task force for several years. During that time, I got my nose broken twice (requiring surgery both times) due to drunks and a pcp suspect. I decided I wanted to teach and became an FTO in 1980. I married the love of my life, Dave Cummings (also an APD officer) on February 19, 1981. I continued as a Field Training Officer for the rest of my career training new recruits, lateral recruits and problem recruits any time they had one. I saved most of them!

In 1990, the local newspaper, the Denver Post, asked to do an article about me and my husband since we worked together on the street much of the time. The picture you see is from the cover of the Sunday Magazine in the Denver Post and there was a three-page article with photos of us and our daily routine as they followed us from home to daycare and to work.

Denver Post Sunday Magazine Cover March 11, 1990
Denver Post Sunday Magazine Cover March 11, 1990

The HARDEST thing I ever had to do was handling SIDS death cases because in 1993 my own son Nicolas Joseph Cummings (July 9, 1993 – December 15, 1993) died of SIDS. I trained with the SIDS program in Colorado to help others and both my husband and I asked and were called to handle many SIDS cases after that since we could share our story and put others at ease in a very difficult situation. It was therapy for us as well.

My husband always said that being a cop was a ticket to the greatest show on earth. You will see it all and then some; bad and good both. You will have a lifetime of stories to tell and laugh at and heartbreaks when you lose friends. Is it worth it? YOU BET IT IS!!!

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