GRPD spends day with Akimel O'odham Pee-Posh Youth Council
September 7, 2018
Aaron J. Tohtsoni
Gila River Indian News
The Gila River Police Department spent Saturday afternoon s with the Akimel O’odham Pee-Posh Youth Council for a Pizza with Police event on Aug. 18 at the Boys and Girls Club in Sacaton. The afternoon social event was a chance for the Community’s youth to talk face-to-face with officers in a relaxed setting and get to know them on a friendly level.
Officers of a wide-variety stopped by during the afternoon that was filled with different team-building activities. They talked about the types of officers that they are i.e. traffic, rangers, and their ranks, etc. and the different responsibilities in their specific posts.
The officers and youth council members started the afternoon by sitting in a circle and played a game to get to know each other’s names. They also shared interesting facts about themselves in an effort to create a relaxed setting.
“I think it was a great opportunity to connect with the Gila River Police Department,” said Randel Curran, Youth Council President. “I think people mostly see them as [a] badge and gun but they are really people beneath that and I think that really showed us that’s something we need to think about.”
Following team-building activities, they ate a pizza lunch together and visited amongst each other, with the AOPPYC members having a questionnaire for the officers. The youth found that many of the officers were daring and had swam with sharks during the questionnaire exercise, which was to find at least one officer that could check off a list.
Following lunch, they spent the remaining time in a roundtable discussion. Chief Kathleen Elliot spoke to the children about the importance of being open to having a positive relationship with the police department.
She said, “We were really excited to be invited to come to their program and get to know the youth a little bit better in an environment where we don’t look like authoritative figures.”
During a roundtable discussion, the youth asked questions regarding traffic laws, jurisdiction questions and even the supernatural, asking officers about any calls with the fabled Hoofer. They asked about the path it takes to become a police officer and asked about the different calls they have encountered.
A popular question was about any scary calls that they have had to investigate, while the youth council was hoping to hear about the Hoofer, officers shared that cases and calls that deal with death are the hardest and scariest to respond to.
Some officers chose to dress in plain clothes, emphasizing that although they are officers, they are regular people underneath the badge. They wanted to be transparent as possible with their answers and stressed that they chose to spend the day with the youth council, volunteering their weekend.
“This was a great opportunity to meet with the teens and young adults from the Community,” said Sergeant Timothy Chavez. “We played team-building games and also had a roundtable discussion. They expressed their concerns in the Community and also had many questions for us. I want to thank the Akimel O'odham Pee-Posh Youth Council and Michael Preston for a fantastic time.”