Amid the political turmoil that the country is enduring today, Nami Oneda is confident that the law enforcement and their four-legged best friends deserve the respect of the people. And as an avid dog-lover, she started The Gratitude Project, a non-profit organization that offers help for police agencies and their K9 dogs.
Nami Oneda advocates for better awareness of the fact that the majority of officers wear their badge with integrity. For her, it is a great injustice to paint broad strokes and say that all officers are racists or murderers. “I would like law enforcement to know that there are civilians who are willing to be their voice and defend them and what they do.”
She calls The Gratitude Project a passion project. Nami Oneda has researched and worked with LVMPD to learn more about the importance of their furry friends in the police department. From attending K9 training to tabulating statistical reports, Oneda has realized the crucial role of handling K9s and the role they play in serving the people.
Her efforts do not just stop with The Gratitude Project. She has released a book titled Dog Teams: Of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 Section. The book is told from the perspective of a civilian, aimed toward a civilian audience. Dog Teams reflects the hardships of becoming a K9 handler. It also highlights the big task of K9s on the job, where their lives are at stake. Nami Oneda claims that the book is an eye-opener to the readers as it also mirrors what transpires when officers solve crimes.
“If you want to learn about K-9 police dogs, this book will give you a new perspective on the world of these canine heroes,” the New York University graduate said.
Growing up in New York, Nami Oneda has always admired the profession of the law enforcement community. Not only do they risk their lives protecting people they do not know, they are also active in community reach outs.
“I was profoundly inspired by the heroism – they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the betterment of our community. After the tragedies of 9/11 and October 1, I knew that I needed to do more than just support them behind the scenes – I needed to publicly be their advocate,” Nami said.
Since the launch of her organization in 2018, Nami Oneda has received phone calls from many law enforcers expressing their appreciation for the book and the initiative she promotes. The Gratitude Project even partnered with the LVMPD Foundation to commemorate the Hidden Heroes Gala in 2019. For her, the gala was “an inspiring and rewarding experience.”
Asked on where she sees herself and The Gratitude Project in the next five years, Nami Oneda commented, “I hope that The Gratitude Project will gain more national recognition in the efforts to honor and thank our law enforcement community. It is such a thankless job and I hope that more civilians would be more aware of what they do. It’d be an honor to be able to eradicate the stigma and discrimination toward those who wear the badge.”
Visit The Gratitude Project website to learn more.
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.