In over 75 years of existence, members of the Optimist Club of Mesa haven't just maintained a sunny view of life.
They build their calendar year around a number of activities aimed at giving back – including essay and oratorical contests, bike rodeo, a back-to-school supply drive, craft fair and a special Christmas party for kids at Mesa Arts Academy.
This month it was the Optimists’ time to observe another of the club’s basic tents – respect for the law.
“It’s always good to recognize the brighter side of law enforcement,” explained spokesman Terry Morrison. “Each year, May is designated for our club to engage in an activity or give recognition to outstanding law enforcement in our community.”
This year that honored officer was Mesa Police Det. Jeff Herperger.
“He is a well-respected and positive individual in law enforcement in Mesa who works with the youth,” Morrison said. “He came highly recommended by one of our club members who works for the Mesa Police Department in a different division.
Club president Sandy Pickens lauded the detective as several Community Action Officers from the Mesa Police Department and Optimist Club members hailed his selection for the honor.
Morrison said he asked Herperger why he became a cop.
“I believe it was because of my upbringing that gave me such a positive outlook,” Herperger said. “I have always felt a strong desire to give back and help young people to believe in themselves and adopt good behaviors.”
An Air Force veteran and 18-year member of the Mesa Police Department, Herperger is for over 18 years and is currently a Community Action Officer with the Central Division.
“Throughout his career, he has always been engaged with the youth, whether it be at Mesa school functions or community events throughout the city,” Morrison said.
Herperger and Det. Kevin Hernandez, a Community Action Officer at the Fiesta Division, regularly visit the Grant Woods Boys and Girls Club to interact with the members to play sports, assist with homework or mentor young people.
In addition, Herperger has hosted numerous tours of the Central Division Police Substation for various schools, youth groups, and community events, “to showcase the Mesa Police Department and to develop positive relationships between law enforcement and children,” the Optimists Club noted.
All Community Action officers also participate in a youth program promoting health and wellness called We Run Mesa.
“Jeff strives hard to foster positive relationships with all of the youth he comes in contact with as police officer, to help build self-esteem, confidence, integrity and positiveness,” the Optimists Club said.
To learn about joining the club, email email@example.com.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.