GRPD showcases the nature of Community First Responders
Gila River Indian News
It was a bright and sunny morning on July 12 as team members of the GRIN arrived at the Gila River police department (GRPD) at 7:00 a.m. for an eight-hour ride-along to experience a day in the life of a Gila River Police officer.
Officer Ward and Officer Ortiz arrived to greet the two Community newspersons, myself and Emma Hughes, on this new experience. The two officers were ready to demonstrate the patrols and the duties that police officers actively perform to enforce the protection of the Community. Activities range from traffic safety and monitoring to reporting highly dangerous and time-sensitive situations.
Officer Ward and Officer Ortiz have worked as police officers for the Community for five years. Officer Ward expressed that his interest in law enforcement was always his goal. He was inspired by his father, a former police officer of 30 years, “You’ve got to want to help people… that’s the basis of our job,” he shared.
Officer Ortiz shared that the profession of law enforcement has been a lifelong dream of his since he was a child. He said, “Being a part of this line of work, it’s expected to have extraordinary customer service when it comes to dealing with the public, and being empathetic to all problems.”
The ride-along experience allowed us to see what occurs at any given notice when an incident occurs in the Community. The moment dispatch reports an incident, officers receive an incident report on their designated laptop devices, informing the officer of the situation. Dispatch relays information via computer and radio to assist the officers with details so they can adequately assess the situation. Officers patrol around the Community, actively listening to the radio dispatch for any incidents to arise. When incidents do happen, police officers make themselves readily available at the scene.
On this day, Officer Ward reported to a traffic jam at the corner of Gilbert Road and State Route 87. A non-Community member was stranded in the heat due to their vehicle stalling, causing a traffic backup on the 87. Thankfully the Cedar Mountain Fire Department could assist traffic and prevent any closures until Officer Ward arrived on the scene. Officer Ward was able to release the firefighters upon arrival and helped the pedestrian arrange a quick tow with a Gila River Ranger.
Although the civilian was nervous about their vehicle on the road and traffic, Officer Ward did his best to accommodate them and their situation. He offered the civilian a seat in his air-conditioned patrol vehicle, as they waited for the GRPD ranger to arrive. He made sure that traffic would not interfere with their safety as well as the safety of the other drivers. Officer Ward was prepared with a paper-printer to assist his colleague, who also needed a waiver to allow permission to tow their vehicle, which saved the day for all of them. Ultimately, the civilian was very grateful for their assistance, and a family member picked them up.
This event and others showcased the true patience and compassion our first responders have in the Community when dealing with any civilian in crisis, no matter how serious. Officers Ward and Ortiz demonstrated exemplary skills and professionalism while remaining humble when problems arose.
Thank you, GRPD, for the ride-along opportunity.
Ride-alongs are open to Community members and the public with an application found at the GRPD office or by email at GRPD.PIO@gric.nsn.us. All who apply must pass a background check and understand that ride-alongs are subject to officer staffing.
Individuals who are curious and want to learn more about law enforcement in the Community can apply for the Gila River Citizens Police Academy (CPA). Participants are granted access to the world of law enforcement by participating in a 9-week program, experiencing civilian-adapted versions of the Police Academy within GRPD. Graduates of the program will gain a unique insight into the life of a law enforcement officer.
As for individuals who are looking to apply to become a part of the GRPD staff, they can apply through the police academy program online at gilariver.org. They are currently seeking police officers, detectives, records specialists, dispatchers, and more.