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'Filled with gratitude': Retiring Sgt. Lee Hollatz heralded as hard-working, determined cop

Farmington police Sgt. Lee Hollatz retires after serving the community for nearly 23 years. Hollatz was honored by Farmington Police Chief Brian Lindquist, who commended his years of service, gave him a hug and his police badge mounted on a plaque. Kara Hildreth / contributor

Farmington police Sgt. Lee Hollatz thrived when investigating cases.

Hollatz, 55, was recognized for his nearly 23 years of service by the city of Farmington at the Nov. 6 city council meeting.

Police Chief Brian Lindquist awarded him his police badge on a commemorative plaque. Lindquist and Hollatz shared in a full bro-style bear hug after working together for more than two decades.

This year the veteran Farmington police force will welcome three new officers who will replace three departing officers.

Lindquist spoke of how he will miss Hollatz, his determined work ethic and commitment to the job of protecting and serving the community of Farmington.

Before joining Farmington police in May 1995, Hollatz worked five years for Estherville police in Iowa. Then he worked with a security squad with Minnesota Department of Corrections.

"Now I am going to live life to the fullest and I will soon have my first grandchild coming in May that will keep me busy," Hollatz said in an interview. He said he looks forward to playing softball and will try playing "senior baseball" in his retirement.

Nicknamed "Reggie" by his high school buddies after the legendary baseball player Reggie Jackson who played in the late 1970s, Hollatz said he was even called by this affectionate nickname by a fellow officers in the department.

Working on so many cases that involved families and youth, Hollatz said he will miss all the relationships with the community, leaders and many who work in town and for the school district.

Missing the brotherhood and camaraderie found with serving alongside fellow officers, Hollatz said this will be a void in his retirement.

"They end up being like a second family, you know, especially in that job because they have your back and I have their backs."

Lindquist commended Hollatz for his police work and his perseverance on a 2014 missing person case about a woman named Laura Simonson, who ultimately was found dead.

The cold case bothered Hollatz. It raised many questions and he wanted to help solve it and hopefully find the woman.

"There were a lot of red flags by the time we got it, and we were behind the eight ball," Hollatz said. The woman had lost contact with her children, sister and mother and even close friends.

"She lived with a mental illness and was without her meds and so I knew it did not look good, but I wanted to know if she was homeless somewhere, or under a bridge or an unknown shelter," Hollatz said.

Even though Lindquist suggested Hollatz put the case aside, he left the file on his desk and kept working it.

"Through our investigative leads, she was found dead and strangled in a suitcase in east Wisconsin, and we had no idea Laura was deceased and I knew the suspect and I was trying to contact him to find out if he dropped her off at a roadside bus or in a ditch," Hollatz said.

Even though the ending was tragic, he was happy to work alongside the Wisconsin state police and the FBI as a multi-agency investigation that led to the conviction of a man who will not get out of prison, Hollatz said.

Hollatz recently reflected on his career

"It was a great honor to be able to serve and protect the citizens of Farmington and work with the businesses, schools and churches, and I would do it all over again and I have no regrets," he said. "I have worked with many officers who are all top quality, qualified and educated officers and most have four-year degrees or master's or even doctorate degrees."

Reading headlines about how law enforcement are portrayed across the country, Hollatz said: "Law enforcement is very healthy in the Twin Cities area, and it is great in Farmington and I am filled with gratitude for the Farmington Police."