Links to blogs of some "touring" authors are included at the bottom of this blog; click the link to meet new characters, and maybe new authors you will love.
An Interview with Alan Victor
Betty: This is Betty Bodine, of the Arizona Police Times Radio Show. On today’s “Meet the Cop” segment, we are with Sergeant Alan Victor of the San Carlos Apache Tribal Police. As most of you will remember, Sergeant Victor, along with Graham County Deputies Brendan Allred and Manuel Sanchez, sprang to national attention when they solved the murder of a young tribal member and recovered the lost treasure from the 1889 Wham Payroll Robbery. His Native American tracking skills were integral to solving the crime, and since that time he has become a frequently requested expert to help other agencies throughout the Southwest. Sergeant Victor, Welcome to the show.
Al: “Thanks, it’s nice to meet you, I always enjoy the show. One suggestion; I can call you Betty and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al.
Betty: (Laughing) That sounds very familiar somehow!
Al: My apologies to Paul Simon: I always wanted to say that, but this is the first opportunity I've had.
Betty: OK, Al it is. To start off the show, tell us how and why you became a law officer.
Al: I grew up on the San Carlos Reservation near Peridot. As a kid, my hero was an uncle who was a police officer; I always wanted to be a policeman. After high school, I studied administration of Justice, and enlisted in the Army serving in the Middle East. I was a Ranger and attended a tracking school. I ended up as a military policeman; in my second enlistment I became an active duty CID agent. After the military I was in the Globe PD for a couple of years, and have been with SCAT police for ten years.
Betty: That’s an impressive resume’. I guess you graduated from San Carlos High School?
Al: No, there was no high school at San Carlos then. Kids at San Carlos attended Globe. My dad worked for the mines, and we moved to Miami to be closer to his work, so I graduated from Miami High School. Don’t tell my boss, but I’m a Vandal.
Betty: I assumed you were a skilled tracker because of your Native American culture; but you had to attend a tracking school as well?
Al: So you think all Indians are expert trackers?
Betty: That’s not what I meant…
Al: (Laughing) Just kidding. I actually did learn some tracking and hunting skills from my dad who was an Apache elder and medicine man, so I understand our heritage, and have many of the traditional Apache skills. The army sent me through a tracking school that included techniques from various Indian tribes as well as some crime scene investigation techniques. Because the army made me an expert tracker, my pal Bren Allred kids me that everything I know about being an Indian I learned in the army.
Betty: (Relieved) “I notice that you refer to yourself as an Indian; that term has fallen out of common usage in most journalism and writing style guides, as being insensitive or offensive, so I’m a little surprised.
Al: I can’t speak for all Indians, but my observation is that in the Southwest most Indians are not offended by the names that have been traditionally used for us. For example, every Apache I know is proud to be called an Apache, and our official tribal name is Apache, though that is the name given to us by others, perhaps our enemies. We call ourselves “N’deh” which means “the people.” In English conversation we routinely refer to ourselves as Indian, and we aren't offended by team names such as Warriors or Redskins. In fact our San Carlos High School team name is “Braves.” We are proud of who we are, how we look, and of our ancestral heritage and culture. So it is a bit insulting to treat words such as redskin as being derogatory – I’m proud of the Apaches copper skin, shinning black hair, and strong features, and of our history as brave and resolute warriors.
Betty: That’s very interesting, and it makes sense to me. So you have been in law enforcement in the military, on a city police force, and now on the reservation. Is there a difference in the work, and if so how?
Al: As a military policeman we spent much more time on security than we do in civilian work, and we were similar in our patrol duties to city cops, we made arrests and issued on-base citations, but did almost no investigation. In Army CID, we investigated many different types of crimes, including some dealing with national security matters. In the city police, it was mostly patrol and traffic enforcement, responding to calls, and investigating suspicious activities or situations. With SCAT (San Carlos Apache Tribe) it is very different because it is almost all in a rural setting, and because we are dealing with tribal members, which is kind of like being related to everyone. Dealing with alcohol was a big deal in the military, but it is probably more so on the Res. Almost all violence on the reservation is related to alcohol or substance abuse. Other than that we are probably comparable to the way a sheriff’s office works.
Betty: The Begay murder that led to the whole Wham thing happened off the reservation. How do you get involved in crime that isn't actually in your jurisdiction?
Al: First, I (as all SCAT police officers) am an Arizona full-authority certified peace officer. Second, we have cooperative and mutual-aid agreements with all the neighboring law enforcement agencies and the state. I also serve on several state-wide and interstate task forces. In Arizona any agency has authority to pursue criminals anywhere, and to enforce warrants in any jurisdiction. In the Begay case, I was invited to participate because Graham County had reason to believe the victim was a tribal member.
Betty: Who is Al Victor inside, what makes you tick, what makes you mad, sad, or glad?
Al: As we discussed off the air, I am a family man; my immediate and extended family are the most important thing in the world to me. That’s all I will say about that. Who am I? I'm a human being, an Apache, a Christian, a patriotic American, a veteran, a loyal friend, a cop, and a man who strives every day to live all these with integrity. What makes me mad is injustice, cruelty, and cheating. I’m saddened by passing of good people, lack of courtesy, laziness, dishonesty, and people who don’t realize their worth. I’m gladdened by the opposite of those things, and by being in the beauty of my homeland, by seeing Apaches make something of themselves, by good people wherever I encounter them. I love well played sports, funny movies, Sunday Mass, American history, and taking part in Apache tribal culture.
Betty: It sounds like you might be somewhat conflicted between different influences in your life, traditional religion and Christianity, Apache culture and American history, police work and a do-gooder outlook. How do you deal with that?
Al: I don’t really comprehend that question. I am very comfortable in my skin; I am confident in my life, and happy with the direction of it. Apache heritage is part of American history. Much of the traditional religious and family beliefs have an amazing correlation with my Christian beliefs. Police work is the ultimate do-gooder work. The Apache people are extremely loyal to the United States; we have many veterans and many active duty service men and women. You should see our veterans and memorial commemorations; our veteran’s graves have flag poles on them. It’s a wonderful site to see all those flags flying at our cemetery. Do I resent the treatment of Apaches by the government? No. When two sides are warring against each other lots of bad things happen on every side; we are all Americans now. You and I are not responsible for what people did fifty or a hundred years ago. We are responsible for what we do now.
Betty: An unexpected response, but a great attitude. We are almost out of time, one last question. What is your idea of a perfect shift?
Al: When I and each of my officers and associates finish in good health, and everybody we have dealt with are better off for us having been there. Most of the victims and criminals I deal with are people I know and care about; I want my tribal family to be safe, happy, healthy, and contributing citizens.
Betty: That concludes today’s program. Thanks to our guest Sergeant Al Victor of the San Carlos Tribal Police for his most interesting responses to today’s questions. Tune in next week at the same time for “Meet the Cop” when we will interview a chief from Arizona’s wealthiest town.
Read Al’s and his friends’ adventures in Saints & Sinners, and The Wham Curse.
Saints & Sinners is a recent Public Safety Writer’s Association award winning book.
My books can be purchased in Print and Kindle formats at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Saints-Sinners-Virgil-Alexander/dp/1610091558
Continue this "Meet the Character" tour by visiting these links to other authors in the tour:
Barbara M. Hodges http://barbarahodges.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/meet-one-of-my-characters-blog-tour/
Joyce DiPastena https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/6879475-meet-my-character-blog-tour-lucianna-fabio