Cocopah police chief receives award
Only one tribal police chief is recognized each year as being the best of the best in tribal law enforcement, and this year it is Chief James Spurgeon of the Cocopah Police Department.
"Of course it is an honor and quite unexpected," Spurgeon said. "It is a by-product of what we do here coming to work every day to serve the community and the tribe."
Spurgeon was recognized as Police Chief of the Year by the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA) during its 17th annual National Training Conference held Sept. 11 in Tulsa, Okla.
"I would also like to say it is a terrific honor to be recognized by my peers, who are also chiefs of police of tribal departments who have a say in the voting," Spurgeon said. "That makes it all that more special."
Spurgeon, who has served with the Cocopah Tribal Police for nearly three years, is also the only police chief from the department to ever earn the recognition.
According to Gary Edwards, chief executive officer of NNALEA, Chief Spurgeon was given the award for his outstanding professional leadership.
"He has forged partnerships with tribal, state, local and federal agencies, and has spearheaded important Homeland Security initiatives," Edwards said.
Upon learning that he won the award, Chief Spurgeon said, "I'm very fortunate as a police chief in Indian country to work with a tribal council that supports its law enforcement program and stands behind us as we move into the future. I know from experience that not every tribal police chief has that luxury."
Carlos Dominguez, U.S. Border Patrol tribal liaison for the Yuma Sector, said he couldn't have agreed more with NNALEA's selection of Spurgeon.
"The Border Patrol greatly appreciates the unified effort between our agency and the Cocopah Tribal Police," Dominguez said.
"The chief has been very instrumental in leading this great partnership."
Spurgeon said his favorite part of his position as chief of police is meeting the daily challenges of the job.
"My inspiration has been to meet many of those challenges by developing working relationships with the Border Patrol and other agencies. We have the support of the tribal government and a majority of the community."
Previously, Spurgeon served over 22 years in law enforcement, seven of those as a chief of police and three with the Cocopah Tribal Police as chief.
He is also a graduate of the 237th class of the FBI National Academy Program and a graduate of the FBI and Department of Justice Command College.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.