Coalition cooks for cops

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher Mayor Bob Rivera seasons some hamburgers at the Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – They are cursed at, spat upon, physically assaulted, called a variety of choice names, and, in the extreme worst-case scenarios – are even executed. But while the brave men and women who dawn officers’ clothing get up each day and head out to do their duty not knowing if they will ever hold their loved ones again, for at least one day of one week, they are shown they are appreciated by the community.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: From left, Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition Coordinator Kathy Grimes shares a laugh with Safford Captain Glenn Orr, Juvenile Probation officer Mark Smith, and an unnamed woman.

In honor of Law Enforcement Appreciation Week, the Graham County Substance Coalition held its annual appreciation cookout at Firth Park for local law enforcement, complete with hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, deserts, and all the fixings.

“They help us so much with all of the things that we do with our coalition, especially with (events) like the mock DUI car crash and things like that,” said Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition Coordinator Kathy Grimes. “And they take care of us in our communities. It’s just one way that we can give back to them and thank them for their service.”

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Retired and now reserve officer Jason Knight, left, chats with Safford detective Bill Wren.

Officers from law enforcement agencies throughout Graham County, the jail, probation, Bureau of Land Management and more descended upon the picnic for some good chow and some good conversation.

Thatcher Mayor and coalition member Bob Rivera was hot on the grill, seasoning the hamburgers and tending to the meat. 

“Our rent here on Earth is giving back to the community,” Rivera said. “That’s our rent, and that’s the right thing to do.”

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: From left, Jan Napier and Rosa Contreras pose by the banner honoring law enforcement. Napier advised the coalition still has the House of Hope Prevention and Resource Center Benefit Softball Tournament T-shirts for sale for $15 each.

“When you can give (back), why not (do it)? And why not for the police? Every day they wake up and they don’t know if they’re not coming home. Anything can happen. Thank God it hasn’t happened (here). But, we’re not immune to anything that’s happening across the country.”

Rivera said all the different police agencies back each other up just like the fire departments and that it is a good thing for the community to have their backs as well. He said putting on the lunch is just their way of showing their support for law enforcement.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Various law enforcement agencies enjoy the lunch put on by the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition.