Police Chief Karl Auerbach Retires After 32 Years of Dedication to the Community


Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Chief of Police Karl Auerbach is now officially retired after 32 years of service to the Community and serving as the 10th chief of the Salt River Police Department for the past eight years.

A day after being honored for his service by SRPMIC leadership in the Talking Stick Resort Grand Ballroom on February 15, surrounded by his family and peers, Auerbach updated his job title on LinkedIn: “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Honorably Retired Chief of Police at Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community!”

Auerbach’s distinguished career in law enforcement spanned four decades. He graduated from the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy in 1980 and later served with the Tempe Police Department, Show Low Police Department and Apache Junction Police Department before joining the SRPD in 1992.

With the SRPD, Auerbach has served as an officer, field training officer, SWAT team member, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, assistant chief of police and acting chief of police on three separate occasions (2004 to 2006, 2001 and 2016). He became chief in 2016.

Auerbach founded the Indian Country Intelligence Network in 1994 to establish a statewide collaborative partnership between all federally recognized tribes in Arizona to enhance communication and strengthen relationships with neighboring jurisdictions and law enforcement partners.

At the retirement ceremony, the SRPMIC Police/Fire Honor Guard posted the colors and SRPD Commander Anthony Sandoval led the Pledge of Allegiance. The SRPMIC Employee Choir sang the national anthem before SRPMIC Vice-President Ricardo Leonard opened with a prayer.

SRPMIC President Martin Harvier gave the welcoming address and thanked Auerbach for his service to the Community.

Harvier recalled how Auerbach once asked him and Vice-President Leonard if they knew why the managers in baseball wear uniforms.

“I kind of knew that, because if you play [baseball] on a reservation, sometimes the players don’t show up, so the managers had to jump in and play. As coaches, you must be ready,” said Harvier, referring to Auerbach.

“The chief once responded to an incident on the freeway which led to him getting into a wrestling match with somebody on the side of the road until help came. Come to find out this was a wanted individual and a very bad person. The chief wore his uniform, and he came ready to play. It showed that he was ready to take action that day.”

Community member, former SRPD Commander and newly appointed Chief of Police Walter Holloway said that while serving as chief Auerbach has demonstrated leadership, integrity and dedication to law enforcement.

“He leaves behind a legacy of innovation, leadership and community service today as he retires from the SRPD,” said Holloway.

Vice-President Leonard presented Auerbach with his own honorary Pendleton blanket from Leonard’s family to Auerbach’s family.

“I’ve gotten to know Karl since I came into office in 2000. He used to come to my district meetings all the time. He sat and broke bread with our people and let them know what was going on in the Community,” said Leonard.

“I had a point in my life when my son died, and the chief and the SRPD were out there. Auerbach’s words helped me through that point in my life. My kids call him Uncle Karl.”

Also speaking about Auerbach was Assistant Community Manager Carla Banuelos, Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police Commander Jonathan Gann, Commander Alejandro McDaniel, and Auerbach’s son Matt Auerbach, an Arizona state trooper. “As his son, I stand before you with immense pride and gratitude for the man who is not only my father, but is also an unwavering pillar of strength, guidance, inspiration and leadership,” said Matt Auerbach. “You are my hero. I love you, Dad.”

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