Cover Story

A candlelight vigil took place Tuesday, May 27, at the Chevron station at Pima and Chaparral roads, the site where Cabrera was killed.

Salt River Police Department Suffers Tragic Loss

By Dodie Manuel and Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

On Saturday, May 24, Salt River Police Department Officer Jair Cabrera, 37, was fatally wounded during a traffic stop at the corner of Chaparral and Pima roads near Scottsdale on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He is the first officer to be killed in the line of duty since the Salt River Police Department was established in 1967.

Since the tragedy, there has been an outpouring of love and support for the fallen police officer and his family. Friends, fellow law-enforcement officers from Salt River, the Valley and State, and the entire Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have united to show their support for a man who was admired by many.

A candlelight vigil took place Tuesday, May 27, at the site where Cabrera was killed. SRPMIC President Diane Enos, Vice-President Martin Harvier, SRPD Chief Patrick Melvin, fellow SRPD officers and Community members all stood up to offer their condolences about this tragic event and to share memories of Cabrera.

Community member Alex Hill-Jimenez, a member of the SRPD Explorers program, was brave enough to speak in front of hundreds of supporters. He reminded the Community that police officers are here to help and that this unfortunate event should motivate people to do good. He also said he looked up to Cabrera.

A commemoration took place on Wednesday, May 28, at the SRPMIC Two Waters government complex, where Community members and tribal employees came together to pay their respects to the fallen officer.

President Enos, in her address to Community members and employees, said this was a tragedy that should not have happened. She encouraged the Community to come together in unity.

“People were asking us to have [a commemoration], because Community members and employees who knew and loved our officer, wanted to come together,” said President Enos. “Before the healing can start we have to share our time together, because this man meant a lot to a lot of us. He wasn’t from here, but he was a part of us. This Council stands together in unity, because we recognized that what has happened here, happened to us as a Community. The steps we take going forward are up to not only the Council, the police department, but you, the families of this Community.”

SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier shared a story from the history books, saying that whenever people met the O’odham and Piipaash people, they were a kind, loving people who helped them on their journey.

“That’s who we are. For this to happen in our Community, that’s what hurts,” said Harvier. He shared his grief with those present and explained that he somehow felt responsible, because it happened during his watch as one of the leaders. He shared a poem that he had adapted for the commemoration titled “A Part of Salt River Died.”

Other members of the Council expressed their heartfelt condolences to the Cabrera family, and they too encouraged the Community to come together to begin the healing process. They thanked the men and women in uniform who currently serve and protect the Community.

Throughout the week, a number of fundraisers took place, including bake sales, shaved ice sales and monetary donations. KNXV-TV Channel 15 (ABC) and the 100 Club of Arizona hosted Community employees for a phone-bank telethon, raising $12,875 which goes to the 100 Club of Arizona’s Survivors Fund in memory of Officer Jair Cabrera. Those who would like to make a donation to Officer Jair Cabrera’s family can do so at any Wells Fargo branch under “The Officer Jair Cabrera memorial fund.”

Cabrera’s memorial service took place on Friday, May 30, at the Christ Church of the Valley in Peoria, where hundreds of police officers and people showed up to pay their last respects to the fallen officer.
Officer Jair Cabrera,
you will be missed.

The three alleged suspects are in custody.

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