Community Services and Public Safety addressing needs

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


The Community Services Department has begun preventative measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by cancelling senior recreational activities, meals are still being served, fitness rooms, recreation activities and computer labs are closed until further notice. The districts are still open and providing services. 


The Elderly Services Program has issued a notice to the elder community on Monday, March 16, that transportation requests are suspended until further notice.  Elders are strongly encouraged to stay home as they are the most vulnerable. Elderly Services Liaisons will assist elders as needed. Critical requests for travel will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For more information, the number to the Elderly Services is (520) 562-5232 or the Elderly Coordinator, Linda Miles can be reached at (520) 610-4098.


Gila River Fire Department is involved and working with Community leaders, the Public Safety Divisions and other Community Departments to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus).  Currently they are taking extra precautions and equipping firefighters with additional protective equipment due to the significant risk COVID-19 poses to the Community and the most vulnerable members. 


Internally, GRFD is reviewing their current practices, procedures, and training for infection control and disease prevention. This will also include procedures should the staff become exposed or infected with COVID-19.  They have reduced their non-essential interaction with the public by temporarily suspending station tours, fueling fire trucks whenever possible at the fire stations, exercising at the stations instead of service centers, and observing social distancing of 6-feet, recommended by the CDC.


Alan Sinclair FMO-BIA, and type 1 Incident Commander for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team #1 (one of 15 National IMT’s) has mentored many employees over the years, with some obtaining national qualification. It has enhanced the ability to support the Community’s response to this incident.


Additionally, all public safety is participating as a key public safety partner with the Gila River Indian Community Incident Management Team, helping to coordinate and assist with organizing the Community's response to the pandemic. Several public safety employees participate regularly on national incident management teams, responding to devastating wildfires and other disasters. 


Gila River Police Department (GRPD) has shared that they will be asking a few short additional questions when interacting with the public, in relation to calls for EMS & Fire, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Some of those questions might include weather or not someone has traveled recently to a known infected area or if there has been any contact with someone who has flu like symptoms. GRPD is asking everyone to please be patient with public safety dispatchers and first responders as these additional steps are to ensure further safety.  Non-priority calls such as property crimes that are not taking place at the time will be handled via telephone by an officer.


Currently no known crimes within the Community are linked to COVID-19. Despite national reports of theft of daily toiletries, water, medicines or other items, there have not been any calls pertaining to burglarized GRIC homes or businesses. GRPD does, however, encourage social media users to limit the amount of information shared regarding what supplies they do or do not have at home. High visibility patrols will be placed in concentrated housing areas to help maintain order and ensure safety to the public. Sworn personnel will be going to elderly complexes to check on elders in every district.


GRPD continues to monitor this fluid and changing environment and will make the necessary adjustments to continue ensuring the safety and health of their officers, staff, and the Community. GRPD’s mobile app is available for download and contains more information, such as a crime map, anonymous tips, and now more information on COVID-19 from GRPD and GRHC.


As mentioned everyone should wash their hands often with soap and water. Use a hand sanitizer, when soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay at home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw in the trash or cough into your sleeve. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and contribute to a healthy Community.