By Diana Graettinger, Sun City Posse public information officer
It has been more than 50 years since the Sun City Home Owners Association suggested the fledgling community of Sun City form a civic organization to watch over its residents; that was in 1962.
Out of that suggestion, a study group was formed and in September 1973, 40 volunteers agreed to form the Sun City Posse. The training officers for the innovative new alliance were members of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The volunteers drove their own vehicles and, in the beginning, wore civilian clothes. They were issued plastic helmets, whistles and equipped with a handful of dimes to use in pay phones to call dispatch; there were no cellphones in those days.
This year, the Sun City Posse, that neophyte group that grew out of that suggestion, is celebrating its Golden Jubilee; 50 years on the job as the eyes and ears of our community. We will be honoring that commitment with year-long celebrations that include fun in the sun activities for both our volunteers and the community.
As the Posse matured as an organization our volunteer numbers grew and by 1975, we had 250 members. In 1977, we were able to purchase multiple station wagons to patrol our streets. That same year uniforms were issued. They were not the gray and black signature uniforms the Posse members wear today, but yellow jumpsuits with the Sun City Posse emblem on them. The brand-spanking new members were the cornerstone of our first Vacation Watch program; a program that has successfully continued for the past five decades.
The first commander was Marvin Van Dera, who served 1973-75 and 1977.
It was not until the 1980s that the Posse elected its first female commander, Maurine “Babe” Barkdoll. That was in 1983 and the Posse has been electing female commanders ever since, including just recently Cmdr. Sarah Davis, who has been a member of the Posse for the past nine years. In addition to visits by numerous local, county and state dignitaries, on May 6, 1983 we hosted President Ronald Reagan, who had learned about our community service organization and who visited our facility. We even have pictures of the former president that will be on display this year, along with other memorabilia marking our 50 years.
Around 2014-15 our volunteer numbers declined precipitously because of the intense training required by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, but after equitable negotiations with the county organization, we were able to separate and now we are an independent body with our own set of high standards and rules.
To mark the occasion of 50 strong and successful years, we are conducting numerous events. There will be monthly events for our members; but there also will be two major community happenings. The first set 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 8 at the Posse headquarters, 10861 W. Sunland Drive, that is being tagged as “fun for kids of all ages.” We are teasing you with the title, so stay tuned for more information.
It has been an awesome 50 years from that granule of an idea by SCHOA more than 50 years ago to the Posse as it exists today. We now have 125 volunteers and we are patrolling the streets of Sun City daily. We have our headquarters and our full-service satellite office at Grand Center, 10415 W. Grand Ave. We have a social media presence on Facebook at facebook.com/suncityposse and a user-friendly Website at suncityposse.org.
We have numerous outreach programs besides our Vacation Watch program and we have been featured in several publications as the signature volunteer program in America that serves as an added layer of safety for our community.
In other words, we are golden.
Editor’s Note: We’d like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments, pro or con, on this issue. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org.