Grand Junction Officer Honored for Community Policing Efforts

A photo of a Grand Junction police officer flying a kite with a local child has won national recognition in a photo contest organized by the US Department of Justice. The photo, taken by Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) photographer John Doe, showcases the officer’s engagement with the community and his dedication to building trust and rapport with the residents.

The Photo Contest

The photo contest, titled “Community Policing in Action”, was launched by the Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office of the Department of Justice in 2014. The contest aims to highlight the positive and proactive work of law enforcement agencies across the country and to promote the principles of community policing.

According to the COPS website, community policing is “a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.”

The contest invites state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies to submit an image that reflects their community policing efforts. The photos are judged by a panel of COPS staff members based on their quality, composition, and relevance to the theme of community policing. The winners are featured on the COPS website, social media platforms, and publications throughout the year.

Grand Junction Officer Honored

This year, more than 170 agencies from all over the US participated in the contest, but only 11 photos were selected as winners. The winning photos depict various aspects of community policing, such as officers interacting with children, seniors, veterans, immigrants, and people with disabilities, as well as officers participating in community events, outreach programs, and training sessions.

The Winning Photo

The winning photo from GJPD shows Officer Arnold Naik flying a kite with a young boy at Grand Junction’s annual Kite Day event on May 13, 2023. The event, organized by the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department, is a family-friendly celebration of spring that features kite flying, games, music, and food.

Officer Naik, who has been with GJPD for four years, said he enjoys attending community events and getting to know the people he serves. He said he believes that community policing is not only a strategy, but also a mindset that requires officers to be approachable, respectful, and compassionate.

“I think community policing is very important because it helps us build relationships with the community and understand their needs and concerns. It also helps us prevent crime and solve problems by working together with the community. It’s not just about enforcing the law, it’s about making a positive difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Officer Naik said he was surprised and honored to learn that his photo was chosen as one of the winners of the contest. He said he hopes that the photo will inspire other officers and agencies to embrace community policing and to share their stories and successes with the public.

“I’m very grateful for this recognition and for the opportunity to represent GJPD and the city of Grand Junction. I’m also very proud of my fellow officers and the work they do every day to serve and protect our community. I think this photo shows that we are not just cops, we are also human beings who care about the people we work with and for,” he said.

The Recognition

The GJPD was notified of the contest results on February 20, 2024, and received a congratulatory letter from the COPS Director, Jane Smith. The letter praised the GJPD for its commitment to community policing and for its exemplary photo submission.

The letter read, in part, “Your photo captures the essence of community policing and demonstrates how law enforcement officers can foster positive and meaningful interactions with the community members they serve. Your photo also showcases the diversity and vibrancy of your community and the joy and enthusiasm of your officer and the child he is flying a kite with. Your photo is a testament to the power of community policing and the impact it can have on enhancing public safety and trust.”

The GJPD Chief of Police, Robert Jones, said he was very proud of Officer Naik and the recognition he received. He said he was also very impressed by the quality and creativity of the photo taken by John Doe, the GJPD photographer who accompanied Officer Naik to the Kite Day event.

“John is a very talented photographer and a valuable member of our team. He has a knack for capturing the moments that matter and telling the stories that need to be told. He has done a great job of documenting our community policing efforts and showcasing the positive side of policing,” he said.

Chief Jones said he was also very appreciative of the COPS office and the photo contest for highlighting the importance and benefits of community policing. He said he hopes that the contest will inspire more agencies and officers to adopt and implement community policing practices and to share their experiences and best practices with others.

“Community policing is not a new concept, but it is a vital one. It is the foundation of our profession and the key to our success. It is what makes us effective, accountable, and legitimate. It is what makes us partners, not adversaries, with the community. It is what makes us guardians, not warriors, of the public. It is what makes us cops, not robots,” he said.

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