One year ago, in the early morning of May 24, 2014, Salt River Police Department officer Jair Cabrera, 37, was killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop at the corner of Chaparral and Pima roads near Scottsdale. Cabrera was the first Salt River Police Department (SRPD) officer to be killed in the line of duty. Since the tragedy, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has since honored Cabrera in various ways.
Cabrera was a man who was loved by many: his family, the Community he protected, his police family, and strangers who also felt the heartache when hearing of the tragedy. The Community has continued to receive an outpouring of love and support from throughout surrounding areas.
Throughout the year, Cabrera has been remembered and honored at various events.
A candlelight vigil was held on Sunday, May 24, at 3 a.m., the exact time that the incident happened. Hundreds of police officers, family members and spectators showing their support gathered at the Stayshons Chevron on Chaparral and Pima roads.
SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier offered an opening prayer and everyone in attendance remembered their hero, who gave his life protecting the SRPMIC.
This event “demonstrates the unity of our Community,” said SRPD Assistant Chief Karl Auerbach. “It was very powerful and very moving. It was a powerful reminder of the risk that our men and women at the Salt River Police Department, or policing anywhere, take each and every day when they put on their uniform to serve and protect the Community. I think gatherings like this, a remembrance like this [where we] honor and pay respect for fallen police officers, is important. It should be an annual event. It’s important so we can honor history, honor our elders, and never forget the memory of the men and women that literally paid the ultimate sacrifice with their own lives to make sure we can enjoy freedom and liberty every day and safety in our Community.”
“There was over 100 people at 3 in the morning, which was really nice. It was the weekend, and people are with their families, and to see all the Community members, officers and the presence that was there, was good to see,” said SRPD Det. Vicente Cendejas.
“The … outpouring, the demonstration of Community members, police officers, Council members, elected officials, executive administration, police officers from other jurisdictions, families of police officers, professionals from criminal justice and public safety from the Community and other communities that attended the candlelight vigil to honor and show their respect for our fallen police officer Jair Cabrera [was absolutely beautiful],” added Auerbach.
First Annual Memorial Walk
The First Annual Memorial Walk to honor Officer Cabrera was held on Saturday, May 30, at the Salt River Community Building. More than 100 walkers made their way to the Two Waters Complex and back again. The route was approximately 3 miles.
“The Community and the police department wanted an event that we could do annually to honor Officer Cabrera for the ultimate sacrifice that he made for you and me,” said Cendejas when asked how the walk came about. “We always preserve his memory, and we plan on doing that for the rest of our time here. We will never forget.”
National Police Week
May 10-16 was National Police Week. Every year during this entire week, thousands of police officers gather in Washington, D.C., to participate in various events honoring and remembering those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This year, Cabrera’s name was added to the Wall of Honor and read aloud to the thousands in attendance.
SRPMIC representatives who attended the event were SRPD Police Chief Patrick R. Melvin, Assistant Chief Auerbach, Sgt. Louis Lombari, Lt. Michaela Sample, Off. Jay Wu, Off. Travis Mathews, Sgt. Aaron Moser, Rachelle Marquez and Off. Forest Wood.
SRPMIC representatives participated in the 27th Annual Candlelight Vigil, where Chief Melvin read Cabrera’s name. They also participated in the 34th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Day services, where President Obama addressed those in attendance; the Standing Watch for the Fallen Flag Ceremony; and the 21st annual Emerald Society and Pipe Band March and Service.