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14 March 19 - April 1, 2011 Top cop from Page 1


Thus began Upshaw’s long association with ICAN, which along with his dedication to the Chandler Kiwanis Club, Chandler Boys & Girls Club, Chandler Education Foundation and other local organizations, recently earned him the Chandler Police Department’s Community Service Award.


“Cmdr. Edward Upshaw has been heavily involved in the community since he began his career with the Chandler Police Department in 1986,” explains his colleague, Cmdr. Matt Christensen. “He has maintained a high profi le presence in the community by displaying extraordinary efforts in his service and consistently going above and beyond as a volunteer.” Upshaw, who resides near Arizona Avenue and Riggs Road with his wife, Cyndi, a Chandler teacher, and daughters Nicole and Erika, joined Chandler’s police force after serving his country as an Air Force pilot.


“There were really only two things I wanted to do,” he says. “I wanted to fl y a jet faster than the sound barrier – I did that. And I wanted to be an undercover or narcotics police offi cer.”


During Upshaw’s years on the force, his many assignments have included the narcotics, gang, SWAT, negotiations and criminal investigation squads, and he’s learned a lot about human nature – not all of it good.


“Unfortunately you have to go through that fi ve- to seven-year phase where you do get a little cynical,” he admits. “It just never ceases to amaze you what one human being will do to another.” Which is why, when Upshaw’s chief fi rst asked him to spend his free time helping the same youth he was arresting on the job, he was skeptical. And the kids he was trying to assist were just as leery of him.


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can talk to you,” he laughs. “It’s a very peaceful environment down there.”


Still, he’s proud of what he’s helped to accomplish on land. Nearly two decades after ICAN’s formation, Upshaw sees the results in the young lives the organization has touched.


Submitted photo


TOP COP: Cmdr. Ed Upshaw receives the Community Service Award from Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler.


“Honestly, we had a lot of conversations. We had a lot of confl ict, but as we talked, I started to see the world from their viewpoint. I think they started to see the need for consequences and the need for the police and what we do. I think we found mutual common ground and mutual respect.”


While much of Upshaw’s volunteer work revolves around children – he also coaches softball for the Lady Dragons Softball Club and is a long-time participant in Chandler High’s Grad Night program – he calls ICAN “the key” to his involvement with Chandler’s youth. “I learned, basically, that prevention and education is a far better option than suppression and sending kids to jail, because when we send them to jail, they come back more hardened than they were before.” When Upshaw isn’t busy with one of his many obligations, he can often be found scuba diving or teaching the skill to others at Mesa’s Saguaro Diving & Sports.


“When you get underneath the water, no one


“One went over to Afghanistan, came back, and became a fi refi ghter at Boeing. We’ve got some who are coaching youth basketball programs. We’ve got some who are nurses. I would tell you that most of the kids who went to ICAN and stuck it out until they were 17, 18 – most of those kids turned out okay, and they’re self-confi dent, productive citizens.


“Honestly, if I wasn’t making an impact, I don’t believe I would’ve given 20 years of my life to it,” Upshaw refl ects. “If I didn’t believe that, there’s no way I would.”


K. M. Lang lives and writes in Sun Groves. To contact her, email KMLang@SanTanSun.com.


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