The police department honored a fallen Apopka police officer’s death with a special service and plaque dedication at the department on Monday, May 15, during National Police Week.
The plaque, which might be placed near the police department entrance, features a portrait taken of Denson L. Hudson prior to 1941 along with an American flag and the Apopka Police Department patch. Text on the plaque includes the date of his death and an explanation of his shooting.
May 15 is during National Police Week, which honors law enforcement officers who sacrifice for people’s safety. President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.
On March 18, 1941, Hudson and Police Chief Fred Risener investigated an open window at the Standard Oil fuel station when they surprised two suspects attempting to break open the safe, according to a press release from the city of Apopka. The parties exchanged gunfire.
Hudson ran to his vehicle to retrieve a weapon, when a bullet hit him in his back. Hudson died at Orange County General Hospital. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery and survived by his wife, Clio, and five children, the press release continued.
Police officers, historians and surviving family and friends attended the ceremony. Clemmie Hicks, now Hudson’s only surviving child, was there.
Museum of the Apopkans curator Belle Gilliam, 95, and Hicks, 90, have been longtime friends. Gilliam recalled the time she heard news of her friend’s father’s death. Hicks was 14 years old when her father was killed.
“It just affected the whole town of Apopka, and Clemmie has been a friend of mine ever since I could long remember before 1941,” Gilliam said, “and she worked with me in the Economy Store after her father passed away.”
Hudson’s name is one of 20,000 names of law enforcement officials engraved in Washington D.C.’s National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which Apopka Captain Randy Fernandez worked with in 2012 to accomplish. Hudson is also immortalized at police memorials in Tallahassee and Orlando, as well as on the Officer Down Memorial website.
An expanded version of this story will appear in the Friday, May 19, issue of The Apopka Chief.