(MUST RUN TUES) WMAT celebrates police week

Leading the White Mountain Apache Police Department in their festivities for National Police Week, May 9 — 15, Chief Theodore “Ted” Shaw and his officers will be participating in a number of educational, safety-oriented and fun activities which focus on law enforcement.

WHITERIVER — This week the White Mountain Apache (WMA) Police Department is joining the nation in celebrating National Police Week May 9 – 15. The week will be filled with a lot of festivities ranging from school presentations to walks, runs, and a heated, but fun, basketball tournament among those who serve in law enforcement, security and emergency response.

President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962, and in a joint resolution Congress established National Police Week to recognize law enforcement officers who lost their lives protecting others in the line of duty.

Two of the Whiteriver runs this week will be in remembrance of WMA police officers Tenny Gatewood, Jr., (Badge P-22) and Officer David Kellywood (P-204).

Gatewood, 38, a nine year veteran of WMAPD, was the first WMA police officer killed in the line of duty on Dec. 9, 1999. According to lawmemorial.org, Gatewood was responding to a burglary call and stopped a vehicle he believed the suspects were in. A struggle ensued and the suspects, a father and son, shot Gatewood in the head before fleeing into the woods. Gatewood died. They were later captured and arrested. Gatewood was married and the father of four children.

Kellywood, 26, who had been with WMAPD only nine months, responded to a report of shots being fired near Hon-Dah Casino in Pinetop around 1 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2020. First on the scene, he was attacked by the subject in question, and in the struggle was shot and killed. A subsequent officer arrived on the scene and shot and killed the subject. Kellywood had previously served with the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. Kellywood is survived by his wife and two children.

WMA Tribal Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood reminded everyone of the upcoming festivities on her live Facebook stream on Saturday, May 8. She complimented Chief Theodore Shaw and his police force, rangers, dispatchers and Tribal forest rangers, acknowledging today’s pressures and scrutiny which everyone is under. She said there is a need for more officers and that the Tribe always advocates for them and are currently trying to get them a new building.

National Police activities are suggested around the country but each police jurisdiction often personalizes their own.

Monday, May 10, the WMA police department was to have a live interview on Apache radio, KNNB at 11 a.m., followed by a National Police Week kickoff at noon with a seat belt check point and Blue Ribbon distribution. Later in the day they planned their first school presentation at Theodore Roosevelt School, ending the day with a candlelight service at 8 p.m. in front of the Whiteriver Police Department.

Tuesday, May 11 will be two school presentations, one at 10 a.m. at McNary School and another at 1 p.m. at Whiteriver Elementary.

Wednesday, May 12 will be the Officer Memorial Runs. The Gatewood Memorial Run will begin at 7 a.m. and is open to the general public. Anyone may participate that would like to run or bike from the Gatewood Memorial location– Upper Log to Roberts Ranch (State Route 73, Milepost 351).

The next hour, 8 a.m., the Kellywood Memorial Relay Run will begin and will include only designated law enforcement officers. They will run from the Kellywood Memorial Site (Hondah RV Park) to Whiteriver Police Department.

Next is the Memorial Fun Walk, open to the general public. Participants will walk from the Apostolic Church parking lot (W. Rainbow St. across EMS). Runners and walkers will meet at the Whiteriver Assembly of God Church parking lot and together make their way to the Whiteriver Police Department.

Thursday, May 12 there will be more school presentations, the first at 9:45 a.m. at Alchesay High School, followed by a 1 p.m. presentation at Canyon Day Junior High.

Friday, May 14 ends the festivities with an 8 a.m. basketball tournament featuring the Whiteriver Police Department, EMS, Fire Department, Department of Corrections, Game & Fish and Housing Security at Memorial Hall at the Theodore Roosevelt School.

Lee-Gatewood summed up the upcoming police week in a special message to the Independent, stating, “Of our police force, two have lost their life in the line of duty. They accepted the call to be the guardian of our lives and property – of we the citizens. Both exemplified everything noble about policing as being honest and compassionate. Both fought as warriors on the outside but caring hearts on the inside and both paid the ultimate sacrifice. We must remember that Officers and Dispatchers and the administrative staff work together to help protect its community, they too are a precious Human Resource with families. We are thankful for the work they do and the time they commit to help maintain order.”

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the fallen and telling the story of American law enforcement, and making it safer for those who serve, will hold a virtual 33rd Annual Candlelight Vigil during National Police Week on Thursday, May 13. It will honor 394 officers who died in the line of duty; 295 are from 2020; 99 are historical and 182 of the 2020 deaths were related to COVID-19. That event will be Livestreamed on social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube) and NLEOMF website at 8 p.m. EDT.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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