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Mini Salas, Community Engagement Coordinator,
Mesa Police Department

As part of National Faith and Blue Weekend, we are spotlighting how people are coming together to build strong connections between law enforcement and the community. For our first spotlight, we are shinning a light on the Mesa Police Department through a discussion with Mini Salas, the Department’s Community Engagement Coordinator. Here is our discussion with Ms. Salas:

What was interesting to you about participating in National Faith and Blue Weekend?

I am new to this position but this is such a great time to be a part of the police department. I feel like this year everybody is so divided. We are seeing what doesn’t work. It’s easy to go on social media and talk about what you don’t like. But this whole initiative is about what you can do. And also the fact that so many police departments across the country are participating. I don’t feel that I am alone. It is good to have the support from someone outside Mesa. Knowing that there is more support. It makes it a little easier for us to put something together. 

Has the Mesa Police Department engaged with the faith community in the past?

Yes. We have. We are lucky to have such a supportive community. We have a clergy forum, and we have a lot of faith leaders who participate in our multicultural forums. They come to us when they want to host their own forums. In fact our chief is going to participate in one next week, and they’ve done them before. We’ve done a lot with the faith community here in Mesa.

And what do you see as important about engaging with the faith community? 

I think the faith community is all about unity and bringing people together. And what I’ve seen in working for the police department and interacting with the faith community is that they are very solutions oriented. And they want to find ways to bring the community and law enforcement together. If law enforcement and the community don’t see eye to eye, that can be very dangerous. And I think that the faith community in Mesa want to find ways to make things work.

And how did you choose your activity?

So I looked over the toolkit, and we’ve done some of the activities already. COVID has made everything so challenging. But we’re still holding community forums online, and we’re doing a community engagement academy, which is similar to what you have in the toolkit. But when I was looking through the activities and saw the essay contest, it’s not something done we’ve before. It’s a little ambitious, but I hope it goes well. But like I said, it’s so easy to go on social media and to say what doesn’t work. But for me personally, writing is what causes me to pause and think. That’s what I want people to do. Pause and think. To ask what can we do to make things work. The other thing is that I want to bring younger voices to the table. We are going to reach out to high school juniors and seniors. I want to hear what they have to say. It’s very important to get new perspectives, as many perspectives as you can, to find solutions.

What do you hope will result from the Mesa Police Department participating in National Faith and Blue Weekend?

I think the residents of Mesa already know that we want to continue the conversation with them. We want to genuinely hear their concerns; what they have to say. I just want them to know that we are very committed to that. To serving with them. To working with them. I also hope we get more participation from the community. From those voices we don’t usually hear from. 

Click here to register for National Faith & Blue Weekend 2022 (October 7 - 10).