LOS LUNAS — Sandy Eyman believes the chasm between officers and citizens in this country has grown more than ever before.
With talks about defunding the police gaining momentum, Eyman made it her mission to show local officers in Los Lunas how much she and others truly care about the work they do.
Eyman and a friend, Domi Archuleta, started up an Adopt-a-Cop program in Los Lunas with the goal of hopefully spreading into other towns in Valencia County. The program, which has been completed by other cities and counties in the country, focuses on getting officers adopted by a person or a family in the community. They then show appreciation for their adopted officer by giving them gifts, words of encouragement or, in some cases, even prayer.
“With all this talk about defunding police officers, my heart is there to just help them and support them,” Eyman said. “Hopefully, it will … continue to grow. I’ve got a lady from Bosque Farms who contacted me and asked me to talk with her about information [because] she’d like to start a program there. And that’s kind of in the back of my head; that’s kind of my goal.”
The local program in Los Lunas began in October, Eyman said, and all officers in the LLPD, as well as some civilian staff, have been adopted by members of the community.
Eyman, who has a 30-year-old son in Colorado who is an officer and who was shot in the line of duty but survived, had thought of the idea to start this program when she caught wind of it on social media. She went on the Neighbors by Ring app and put out a call to action to see who in the community would be interested in adopting a cop. That’s when she was flooded with support and those willing to get involved.
“It clicked because there was, like I said, a lot of support. I went on the Neighbors app and just … wrote a post,” Eyman said. “This is what I’d like to start doing. From there, people referred other people [for the program].”
Some of the gifts given include gift cards and baked goods, Eyman said.
In one instance, an adoptee went ahead and adopted all LLPD officers and office staff by baking them each a loaf of pumpkin bread right before Thanksgiving Day. One officer was given a $100 gift card to Sunglass Hut because “all good officers need a good pair of sunglasses,” Eyman said.
LLPD Sgt. Jonathan Norris was one of those officers who received a gift — in fact, his whole family did. He received a gift bag in October full of goodies from Trader Joe’s for him, his wife and son. He received another gift bag in November.
“The Adopt-a-Cop experience felt by the officers here is one of gratitude and thankfulness,” Norris said. “The public, in general, has voiced to us individually and as a department, at different times, their support and concern for our officers and employees.
“These gestures are priceless and when someone takes time to acknowledge and include your family, like the Adopt-a-Cop program, it is a special honor!”
LLPD Sgt. John Valdez was also adopted by community member Julian Gallegos, and was given a certificate to shop at Cabela’s, candy and a Lowe’s gift card.
“It means the world to us. It’s more than we can ever express,” Valdez said. “With everything that is going on with so many people and communities crying for the defunding of police, it means a lot knowing we have support here locally from citizens. It gives us a sense of peace.”
LLPD Chief Naithan Gurule called the program a “morale booster.”
“We appreciate our community members and are extremely thankful that our community members care about us so much,” Gurule said. “Our community is a great place to live and work because of all of the great people we have. I want to thank everyone who participated, we are forever grateful.”
While talks of defunding the police have picked up steam nationally, polls show a different story. A poll conducted by Research and Polling Inc. for the Albuquerque Journal shows 61 percent of citizens statewide oppose defunding the police with just 24 percent in support.
Nationally, 53-64 percent of respondents — based on polls from different publications such as ABC News, Reuters, The Economist and Politico — also oppose the defunding of police with just 24-39 percent supporting the cause.