From pro basketball to policing, Seattle officer continues to make a difference

Rosell Ellis now serves as a police officer and is taking part in the department’s new recruitment campaign

By Amanda Lien

SEATTLE — For Seattle police officer Rosell Ellis, basketball and policing have gone hand-in-hand since his youth.

When he was growing up in the city he now serves, Seattle cops would hand out stickers and basketball cards as a way of connecting with the community, he told K5 News. Ellis never forgot those gestures, especially since basketball became his first love and his first career.

After college, Ellis played basketball around the world – traveling to Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Singapore and Argentina, to name a few — but by the time his career came to an end with the Townsville Crocodiles of Australia's National Basketball League, he was thinking about home. So, he returned to Seattle and decided to pursue a career as a police officer.

"The thing I had to get used to was being back in school again, sitting in an academy again with peers twice as young as me," Ellis told K5 News.

The former basketball star was sworn in at the age of 42. He is now assigned as a school resource officer, but after the COVID-19 closure of all Seattle schools, he began patrolling city parks.

Ellis is recognizable around town now, and not just because of his 6’6” stature. He is also part of the city’s “This Is My Neighborhood” campaign, an initiative meant to recruit new officers by highlight police personnel who were born and raised in the city. A billboard with Ellis’ image went up Tuesday in an area not far from where he grew up.

"He is really a shining example of what you can do, and how you can give back to the community," Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told K5 News. "A person of high integrity, high moral standards, and we are glad to have him."

Ellis is doing his part to recruit, he told K5 News. He learned a lot from his younger days and is eager to put those lessons back into the job now.

"When you're older, you know, you use your mind first instead of your physical abilities, so you sit back and assess things and look at them from a different point of view," he said.  "I do appreciate putting this uniform on every morning. It's been a long time coming for me."

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