POLACCA, Arizona — Annie Goy, community involvement specialist for the Navajo Nation Regional Community Policing Institute in Toyel, led a two day workshop at First Mesa Consolidated Villages to emphasize the need for community policing.
Goy said community oriented policing, known as COPS, focuses on communities working together with law enforcement in order to address crime and to make communities safer. The program is 100 percent federally funded.
Goy has given similar workshops throughout Arizona and into parts of New Mexico.
She said this program received a lot of enthusiasm from First Mesa and she was glad to see that leaders endorsed the program. Those speaking on its behalf included Hopi Vice Chairman Phillip Quochytewa Sr., BIA Chief of Police Alphonse Sakeva, BIA Police Captain Albert Silas, Kikmongwi Harlan Nakala and Community Service Administrator Ivan Sidney.
Representatives of churches, businesses, schools, village leaders, social services and health care providers were among those represented. “It was a good active group,” Goy said, praising First Mesa for obtaining a COPS grant that has allowed them to hire four police officers.
Danny Joseph, a police officer for First Mesa, noted that Goy taught the trainees the SARA method, which stands for scan analyze, respond and assess. He emphasized that this was an easy seminar because it was only for First Mesa, which includes the villages of Sichomovi, Tewa and Walpi.
“This was not just for law enforcement, but for everybody so we can all work together and solve problems for the sake of public safety,” he said.
The top four priorities in First Mesa’s action plan call for:
* Establishing a public safety commission;
* Finding and using resources to address public safety problems;
* Training police and those ion the judicial branch to help with community pricing;
* Educate the public.
Chief Sakeva said community policing is an important tool for addressing child abuse and bootlegging. He urged people to call it in if they see people loading up with booze in Winslow or Flagstaff before heading for the Hopi Reservation. “Call it in because it could save a life,” he said.
Sakeva said Hopi ordinances do not have laws against bootlegging, but against possession.
“Fortunately, the judges have been hitting them hard,” he said. “If you see somebody loading a 24 pack you know it’s not just for themselves. They will either share or sell it. How can we cut down on bootlegging? By communicating. At least, we can confiscate the contraband,” he said.
Sakeva said many people don’t want to tell on their relatives, but it could save lives.
“First Mesa has been divided politically, but we all have the problems of bootlegging, curfews and elderly abuse,” said Officer Leon Beatty. “We need to come together and build the future for our children Child abuse and alcohol problems impact the family.”
Paul Sidney, a BIA police officer, said one reason for the seminar was to identify the community’s law enforcement concerns. He said establishing a public safety commission is key, but they will need police help in obtaining statistics and information.
“They will set policy, but they will also be our eyes and ears,” he said. This was successful because people now realize that they do play a role in preventing crime. Instead of depending on law enforcement, the village can take ownership of the challenge. We’ll be there, but we need community help.”
Sidney said everybody has the right to law enforcement, but villages can have the strength of self empowerment by becoming involved.