Downed Officer Grew Up Wanting to Be a Cop
by Beverly Corbell
Jul 29, 2009 | 1796 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TRAGIC LOSS – Montrose Police Officer Dave Kinterknecht, killed in the line of duty Saturday, July 25, had a long career in law-enforcement agencies throughout the region; he was also a volunteer fireman. (Courtesy photo)
TRAGIC LOSS – Montrose Police Officer Dave Kinterknecht, killed in the line of duty Saturday, July 25, had a long career in law-enforcement agencies throughout the region; he was also a volunteer fireman. (Courtesy photo)
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MONTROSE – Montrose Police Sgt. David Kinterknecht, shot and killed in the line of duty last Saturday, always wanted to be a cop, even as a boy.

Kinterknecht was killed Saturday night by a shotgun blast fired by a man barricaded in a garage during a domestic dispute. Two other officers were injured.

As he sat in Cmdr. Gene Lillard’s office at the Montrose police station, Kinterknecht’s long-time friend and fellow officer Jake Suppes remembered him as a teenage kid that begged to ride along on police patrols, and usually got his way.

“Dave wanted to work for the Montrose police department even as a kid,” Suppes said. “He used to come with us on ride-a-longs and we’d tell the officer he was to ride with at the very last minute and then call Jake. We enjoyed having him with us. He was fun.”

Suppes said officers would even pick up Dave at home for ride-a-longs and he often rode along with Montrose Sheriff’s deputies as well.

Kinterknecht, who was 41 when he died, also worked as a volunteer fireman for 10 years, and many at the fire department feel his loss deeply, Suppes said.

“I used say the fire department was his ‘play’ and the police department was his ‘work,’ but he retired from the fire department as a lieutenant,” he said. “Those guys are hurting as much as we are.”

After graduating from Montrose High in 1986, Kinterknecht went to Mesa State College and then to Delta Montrose Technical College and completed his police academy training. His first job was with the Telluride Marshal’s office, Suppes said.

Even though he’d dreamed of being a Montrose cop, it was probably better that he got his initial experience elsewhere, Lillard said.

“We raised him,” Suppes said. “It was hard to think of him as an adult.”

Suppes smiled as he remembered the kind of cop Kinterknecht was on his first job in Telluride, where he stopped and ticketed celebrities like Tom Cruise (which was cited in Esquire Magazine) and movie critics Siskel and Ebert.

“It didn’t matter who you were,” Suppes said. “He didn’t pull any punches.”

“He came across real strong,” Lillard said. “But when you got to know him, he would melt like butter.”

But he was not afraid to speak his mind, Suppes said, and was outspoken at many staff meetings.

The next job for Kinterknecht was with the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, then on to the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office for a year and a half, and finally he got his dream job with the Montrose Police Department in December of 1996.

Suppes found he was once again in a cruiser with Kinterknecht, this time for four weeks straight as his first training officer with the Montrose PD.

“I was only 32, and he was four years younger, but I got to be his training officer,” Suppes said. “Another of his training officers was Pete Dubois, who’s known Dave since he was a kid.

Training Kinterknecht wasn’t much work, Suppes said. “He was a good cop already and our training was mostly riding and talking.”

One night proved to be embarrassing for Suppes, though. As they were cruising, Kinterknecht was driving and stopped to talk to another officer at an intersection. Suppes, in the front seat, fell asleep and only woke when the car sped off.

“Dave said, ‘We got a domestic – just go back to sleep,’” Suppes said.

Kinterknecht loved being a cop and a fireman, but more than anything, he loved his family, Suppes and Lillard agreed.

Kinterknecht was very close to both his mother, Jo Anne Topliss of Grand Junction, and his late grandmother, with whom he lived with for part of his teenage years.

“It was hard on him when she died,” Lillard said.

Kinterknecht is survived by his wife Kathy Kinterknecht, of Montrose; his daughters Andrea, 16, and Amanda, 12, of Olathe; and many other relatives in this area.

“He loved his daughters and went to their basketball games and saw them often,” Suppes said.

Suppes said Kinterknecht was very close to his sister and brother-in-law, Denise and John King of Las Vegas, and visited them several times a year. He said King, a Las Vegas cop, and Kinterknecht had both been in police Explorer Cadets as boys.

“His two daughters and Kathy, he loved them more than anything in the world,” he said. Losing a fellow officer is the worst part of the job, Suppes said.

“This is part of the job we hate,” he said. “But we have to realize the possibility that this will happen. Most cops never shoot anyone and end up retiring.”

Kinterknecht had been with the Montrose force for almost 13 years, Lillard said, and started out as an Explorer Cadet at age 13.

He started his career with Montrose PD as a patrol officer, handling all kinds of situations and day-to-day calls in traffic enforcement.

Kinterknecht was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and was shift supervisor over officers Robbie Satterly, Billy Stroup and Josh Pollert.

“He was just a great guy and the guys working for him loved him,” Suppes said.

Kinterknecht was also a hostage negotiator on the SWAT team, Lillard said, and was a range officer at the police shooting range.

“He taught firearms and firearms safety to police officers and was also a field training officer,” he said. “He takes new recruits and teaches them basic police work.”

A valuable employee, “with a smile worth a million dollars,” Kinterknecht could come across as a tough guy, but was really a softie inside, Lillard said.

“He had a great personality and was a wonderful person,” he said. “He loved the fire department and the police department, and for him, it was all about public service.”

Kinterknecht’s devotion to his calling and his department was rewarded over the years, Lillard said. In 1999 he received an award for saving a person’s life, and in 2001 he was given the Medal of Meritorious Service, the third highest medal possible, he said, for diffusing a situation where a man was threatening with a gun.

“Sgt. Kinterknecht was able to disarm him and take him into custody,” Lillard said.

Among the numerous other commendations Kinterknecht received was the police Merit Citation in 2008 for orchestrating the investigation of a bank robbery at Vectra Bank that ended with the quick apprehension of the suspect.

Police Chief Tom Chinn said Kinterknecht was “the most caring person in the world.

“David was truly a good person and did a lot of things for the community and for individuals we’re not even aware of,” he said. “He went out of his way to help people.”

Memorial funds have been established for Kinterknecht’s wife and two daughters through the Colorado State Lodge FOP, Public Awareness Foundation and Montrose Bank.

The Colorado Fraternal Order of Police has established a memorial fund on behalf of Kinterknecht’s family, which includes his wife and two daughters. Donations may be made to the Colorado State Lodge FOP, Public Safety Awareness Foundation, Reference Montrose Sgt. David Kinterknecht, 2701 W. 84th Ave., Suite 211, Westminster, CO 80031. All donations received will be transferred to the family. A tax ID number or further information about the memorial fund can be obtained by calling 303/591-3842.

Donations can be also made to the David J. Kinterknecht Benefit Fund at Montrose Bank at either Montrose location or mailed to 200 North Townsend Avenue, Montrose CO., 81401.

Condolences and memories can be shared with the Kinterknecht family and the Montrose Police Department by logging onto www.cityofmontrose.org. Cards and letters can be sent to: City of Montrose, c/o Chief Tom Chinn, P.O. Box 790, Montrose, CO., 81402.
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