A program was started to honor the life of an off-duty FWC officer who was killed one year ago.
Julian Keen is remembered as a man who gave back to his community. Now, there’s a new program for young people who choose to follow in his footsteps of service.
Keen’s sister, Yvar Pierre, wears the words “a hero never dies” proudly on her shirt. “He was a hero. He really was,” she said.
Monday marks one year since the hero and FWC officer died while off-duty. He stopped a man for driving recklessly in LaBelle. That man, Eliceo Hernandez, 20, is the person detectives say shot and killed Keen.
“His memory will live on forever, before me, before my kids, before my kid’s kids, his memory is going to live on for ages,” Pierre said.
It will live on through the Julian Lee Keen Cadets Mentorship Program. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Collier County Public Schools and the Julian Lee Keen Foundation partnered to make sure his passion for mentorship lives on.
“Julian wanted to see that every child had a mentor. He knew the importance of having a mentor,” said Kennetha Rice, also Keen’s sister.
Col. Jim Bloom with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said that sixth graders in Immokalee will prepare for the sheriff’s office’s cadets and explorer programs.
“It will give them hands-on training in leadership, fitness, civic responsibility, service to the community and specific law enforcement skills that they can build off in the future,” Bloom said.
“You always want the youth to do better than what you did, so I think that is something that he would absolutely love to see, he would’ve love to see that,” Pierre said.
Both sisters agree that Keen would be happy to know that his passion is continuing and that good people are picking up on where he left off.
“In the end, I want my brother to be smiling down from heaven,” Rice said.
Hernandez remains behind bars awaiting trial.
The Julian Lee Keen Cadets Mentorship Program will begin in August at Immokalee Middle School.