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Sedona police officers and Yavapai County Sheriff’s deputies responded July 20 to an incident involving a driver with a reported weapon who had allegedly threatened to shoot “as many people as he needed to.”

By coincidence, photojournalist Jordan Reece was in the area and pulled over to photograph the scene that we published in our Friday, July 22, edition and online.


During the tense standoff, officers and deputies armed with rifles ordered the man to emerge from his vehicle, stand down and surrender. According to Reece and other witnesses, the man exited the car with one hand behind his back, then quickly pulled a black object from behind him.

However, our local officers and deputies kept their cool, followed their training and in the end, arrested the man peaceably, without any shots being fired by anyone. No weapon was later found on the man nor in his vehicle though at the time, officers had no way to determine if he had indeed been holding a gun at the time.

In other parts of the country, this scene could have played out very differently. Prior to this incident, but following the shooting deaths of unarmed black men by police officers caught on video around the country and the recent assassinations of five police officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, La., I had asked interim Sedona Police Chief Ron Wheeler to write a guest perspective to the community about our department, his focus on community-oriented policing and how his officers cope with the deaths of fellow officers.

Wheeler was unable to send a guest perspective right away because, coincidentally, he was at a conference in St. Louis focusing precisely on these issues.

Before Wheeler left Sedona as a commander to become chief of the town of Pinetop-Lakeside Police Department, he was known around the community for his friendly nature and community focus.

While working with this newspaper, I have interacted with local police at a variety of scenes, from house fires to fatalities to car accidents. Most recently, a few artists from the Sedona Summer Art Colony were at my home in West Sedona. Among them was Rhode Island poet Christopher Johnson, who had just finished writing the guest perspective we published last Wednesday.

While leaving, the group’s driver had a minor accident and called SPD to get a police report for his insurance. SPD Officer Jonathan Reed arrived at the scene and after concluding the call, he and Johnson spoke briefly about the shootings of police, shootings of black men by police, the Black Lives Matter movement and his guest perspective.

At the end, Johnson asked to take a photo with Reed, who was happy to oblige. That photo of a smiling civilian and a officer — two good men — encapsulates the nature of our department and community-oriented policing. Wheeler thanked me for sending him a copy of the photo and I thanked him for leading a department where such a photo was possible.

Police officers are not often thanked for doing their jobs. Sometimes that means making an arrest, or refusing to shoot or merely taking a photo with a stranger.

We thank the officers who kept the peace on July 20. I personally thank Officer Jonathan Reed for a simple act, but one carrying so much weight.

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