WMAT celebrates Police Week | Latest news
WHITERIVER – This week, the White Mountain Apache Police Department (WMA) is joining the nation to celebrate National Police Week May 9-15. The week will be filled with many celebrations ranging from school presentations to walks, runs, and a heated event. But fun basketball tournament among those who are into law enforcement, security and emergency response.
President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15, 1962, National Peace Officers Memorial Day and, in a joint resolution, established National Police Week Congress to recognize law enforcement officers who lost their lives to protect others on duty.
Two of the Whiteriver runs this week commemorate WMA Police Officer Tenny Gatewood Jr. (Badge P-22) and Officer David Kellywood (P-204).
Gatewood, 38, a nine-year WMAPD veteran, was the first WMA police officer to be killed on duty on December 9, 1999. According to lawmemorial.org, Gatewood responded to a break-in and stopped a vehicle he believed was suspect. A fight ensued and the suspects, a father and son, shot Gatewood in the head before escaping into the woods. Gatewood died. They were later captured and arrested. Gatewood was married with four children.
Kellywood, 26, who had only been with WMAPD for nine months, responded to a report of shots fired near the Hon-Dah casino in Pinetop at around 1 a.m. on February 17, 2020, and was in action shot. A succeeding officer arrived on site and shot and killed the subject. Kellywood had previously served in the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. Kellywood is survived by his wife and two children.
WMA tribal chairman Gwenda Lee-Gatewood reminded everyone of the upcoming celebrations on her live Facebook stream on Saturday, May 8th. She congratulated Chief Theodore Shaw and his police, rangers, dispatchers and tribal forest rangers, recognizing today’s pressures and controls that everyone is under. She said more officers are needed and the tribe is always standing up for them and is currently trying to get them a new building.
National police activities are proposed across the country, but each police force often personalizes its own.
On Monday, May 10, the WMA Police Department was due to conduct a live interview on Apache radio KNNB at 11 a.m., followed by a prelude to the National Police Week at noon with a seat belt checkpoint and a distribution of the blue ribbon. Later that day they planned their first school presentation at Theodore Roosevelt School and ended the day with a candlelight service at 8 p.m. outside the Whiteriver Police Department.
There will be two school presentations on Tuesday, May 11th, one at 10 a.m. at McNary School and one at 1 p.m. at Whiteriver Elementary.
The Officer Memorial Runs will take place on Wednesday, May 12th. The Gatewood Memorial Run begins at 7 a.m. and is open to the general public. Anyone wishing to walk or ride a bike from Gatewood Memorial – Upper Log to Roberts Ranch (State Route 73, Milepost 351) is welcome.
The next hour, 8 a.m., the Kellywood Memorial Relay Run begins, and only certain police officers participate. You will walk from the Kellywood Memorial Site (Hondah RV Park) to the Whiteriver Police Department.
Next up is the Memorial Fun Walk, which is open to the general public. Participants walk from the Apostolic Church parking lot (W. Rainbow St. via EMS). Runners and hikers meet in the parking lot of the Whiteriver Assembly of God Church and make their way together to the Whiteriver Police Department.
There will be more school presentations on Thursday, May 12th, the first at 9:45 a.m. at Alchesay High School, followed by a 1:00 p.m. presentation at Canyon Day Junior High.
Friday, May 14th, the festivities will end with a basketball tournament at 8 a.m., attended by the Whiteriver Police Department, EMS, the fire department, the Corrections, Game & Fish and Home Security Department in the Memorial Hall at Theodore Roosevelt School .
Lee-Gatewood summed up the upcoming police week in a special message to the Independent, stating: “Two of our police officers lost their lives on duty. They accepted the reputation of being the guardian of our lives and property – of us citizens. Both portrayed everything noble about the police as being honest and compassionate. Both fought as warriors on the outside, but on the inside they cared for the hearts and both paid the ultimate sacrifice. We need to remember that officials and dispatchers and administrative staff work together to protect the community. They are also a valuable human resource for families. We are grateful for the job well done and the time you spend keeping order. “
The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring the fallen and telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve, will open Thursday, April 13th. May, hold a virtual 33rd annual candlelight vigil during National Police Week to honor 394 officers who have died on duty; 295 are from 2020; 99 are historical and 182 of the deaths in 2020 were related to COVID-19. This event will be broadcast live on social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube) and on the NLEOMF website at 8 p.m. EDT.