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The Salt River Police Department pays homage to past Chiefs by creating a “Wall of Honor” with a display of photos located in the Police Department Administration; honoring all past and present Police Chiefs from the Salt River Police Department. Here Florence Gates looks at a photo of her late husband Buddy Gates, the first SRPD Chief.

Salt River Police Department Wall of Chiefs

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

The Salt River Police Department pays homage to its past police chiefs with a “Wall of Chiefs” that recognizes all past and present police chiefs for their dedication and service over the years. The display is located in the SRPD Administration lobby; friends and family members donated many of the photographs. The Wall of Chiefs celebrates and preserves the history and memory of those who have protected and served the members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The Salt River Police Department pays homage to its past police chiefs with a “Wall of Chiefs” that recognizes all past and present police chiefs for their dedication and service over the years. The display is located in the SRPD Administration lobby; friends and family members donated many of the photographs. The Wall of Chiefs celebrates and preserves the history and memory of those who have protected and served the members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The First Chief: Buddy Gates
The very first police chief for the Salt River Police Department was Buddy Gates.
“Buddy loved his job and felt it was an honor to serve his Community in this capacity,” said Florence Gates about her husband. His legacy continues, as all four of Buddy and Florence’s daughters, Lynette, Danette, Yvette and Davonna, work within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The Current Chief: Patrick R. Melvin
“The Wall of Chiefs shows the rich history of the leadership of the police department in the Community,” explained Melvin.

“I am honored to [have had the] opportunity to lead the Salt River Police Department. I am grateful to all of the former chiefs and their leadership, because without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. The former chiefs have also made it that much easier for me to be where I am now. I’ve been here for six months, and I tell people all the time that I wish that I had known about Salt River a long time ago. It’s been quite a blessing to be here.”

Former Chief Edward Reina, Jr.
Former Chief of Police Edward Reina, Jr. thanked his support staff for all their accomplishments during his time as chief.

“We started Community policing and we were the first tribal police department to start investigating federal crimes and presenting them directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Reina. “The Council always supported law enforcement, and I think it’s still the same way today, so through their efforts Salt River was always known as being a very progressive police department. Even though I was chief, I was allowed to do a lot of things that the Council supported, and that’s what’s really needed, Council support.”

Reina was released as chief of police in 1996. He continued to work in other tribal communities in the law-enforcement area, but he retired this year.

“I always felt Salt River was one of my greatest accomplishments. I worked for four other tribal governments: the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation, Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony in Nevada, and the Tohono O’odham Nation,” said Reina. “But of course Salt River is my home, so I always supported it.”

Former Chief Karl G. Auerbach
Current SRPD Assistant Chief Karl Auerbach has proudly served the Salt River Police Department for more than 20 years, taking on the role of police chief more than once. Auerbach helped develop programs such as the Police Explorer Program in the early 1990s and helped the department become part of the East Valley Fusion Center, just to name a couple of the accomplishments during his time with the department.

“It’s been such a blessing to proudly serve the Community for 20 plus years. I started here as a police officer, and the changes that have occurred have been fantastic. They are the result of the leadership and Council having the vision to ensure that the police department received the necessary staffing, training, tools and equipment so we can continue to protect and serve the Community,” said Auerbach. “We’ve been able to work together collaboratively as a team in a very proactive and professional fashion. I have worked with some wonderful people in the police department who are very dedicated. This history with the Wall of Chiefs is just literally following in the footsteps of all of these leaders who have established a tradition to protect and serve all persons in the Community with dignity and respect.”

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