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Cops use music to boost image

Date Posted: 2006-11-10

Nago Police have turned to music as they reach out to demonstrate they’re really concerned about their community.

The police and other music lovers have formed the Nago Police Station Folk Group, headed by Vice Chief Hiroshi Oyakawa. A policeman who’s part of the group says the music is a perfect way to attract attention of Nago citizens. He says the musical entourage also works for safety and crime prevention.

The group first got together for a farewell party for one of their colleagues. Quickly then realized the music could be used to the police department’s advantage, noting that usually people, when hearing the word ‘police’ tend to become frightened or distant. The typical image of policemen as strong disciplinary faces sometimes makes it hard to get to know the citizens.

Oyakawa, the team’s leader, plays sanshin and is a vocalist. He’s joined by Kiwako Teruya from another area police box as a singer and samba player. Ogimi Village Shioya area police chief Shigenobu Higa plays mandolin. Other officers round out the group with their sanshin, performing around the northern island area.

Their performances began last March, as the group gathered to honor a departing police officer. The folk songs were so popular, and local citizens attending the party asked for their own performances. With that, the group was born. Senior citizens are particularly strong fans, as the group plays at the Community Halls.

Oyakawa only began playing sanshin one and one-half years ago, but plays so well everyone loves his music. Some say his appearance is so very different from his stern working face, where he’s a strict leader always in the ‘strong lion’ mode, they love his relaxed aura as he performs and sings. “I do communicate with the local residents through music,” he says, “and it closes the distance between people.”

He says the group, when conducting lectures or conferences, often perform musically first, then launch into the real police missions such as safe driving.

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