Monday, January 3, 2011

Good Intentions…Great Blessings

I always believed the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” was found in Dante’s The Inferno. I’m told it isn’t. Maybe I should have read the book. I’ve been meaning to do that since college, but like some other tasks, it just doesn’t seem to get done.

When I last posted a blog on this website, I was excited about the pending elections. I wanted to keep everyone informed about the House Republican candidates whom I had met and gotten to know. I started off boldly with information about Melinda Russ. My friend Melinda came close but did not win, so perhaps it is a good thing I didn’t write about any of the other Republicans.

By now, you all know Republicans were very successful in changing the make up of the House of Representatives. We went from 25 to 33 out of a total of 70, a huge improvement. I wish I could say I played a significant role in helping that come to pass, but that would not be true.

This past election season, and continuing through the holidays, I have been serving as the Chief of Police of the Roswell Police Department. This development happened suddenly and completely unexpectedly. My appointment came about because of the former chief’s sudden retirement at the same time the Deputy Chief was scheduled to retire. To further complicate matters, the City of Roswell had a new mayor elected in March and was in the process of finding a new city manager. It was a time of significant transitions for the City of Roswell, and I felt led to raise my hand and offer my services. The enthusiasm with which I was welcomed to my new position was startling.

Fortunately, I had no opposition in either the primary or general election and the City leadership graciously allowed me time to fulfill my duties on Interim Committees. However, I really could not engage in political activity like I had hoped.

This experience has been incredible. It has truly been a privilege and honor to lead the Roswell Police Department. I made it a priority to reach out and listen to all aspects of the community. I had to confront some difficult challenges but chose to meet them head-on if at all possible and not leave them for my successor to resolve.

On a daily basis I am awed and impressed with what we expect of our young police officers and how they rise to the occasion. My joke is that I have suits that are older than some of these officers. Many were not yet in school when I first put on a badge.

At the end of every shift sergeants prepare a brief overview called the "Sargeant's Log." This consists of statistics on arrests, citations and calls for service. The log also includes a very brief narrative of the more significant incidents on the shift. Every morning I get up and check my email to see the sergeant’s log for swing shift which is usually completed around 2:30 a.m. Later on before I leave for the office, I read the log for the midnight shift. In strikingly concise and colorless prose, these first line supervisors matter-of-factly describe events that would strain the limits of civilians.

There was an incident in which a young officer beat the ambulance to a call for an infant who had stopped breathing. He performed CPR on a three-week old child until the paramedics arrived. This same officer had experienced a similar tragedy in his own family very recently.

On another occasion a new officer heard the call for a drive-by shooting, spotted and stopped a suspicious vehicle (with four occupants). He controlled the situation until back-up arrived, recovered guns and made arrests. I could go on and on but won’t.

In addition to this, there are countless calls of domestic violence, drunkenness and disorderliness, fights, alarms, and the “unknown trouble.” Dispatchers will call these out and the officers respond without hesitation. Many times, I hear an officer get on the radio and inform Dispatch that he is closer and takes it upon himself to deal with the issue. As I said, I am in awe of them.

One Saturday evening I got to present a Medal of Valor to a young officer. He was beginning his midnight shift. Other members of the command staff and I went to him rather than call him in at a time convenient for us. Some months earlier this officer had been in a violent shooting incident in which another officer was wounded. Our hero pulled his comrade from harm, ensured he would be “ok” and returned to the gun fight.

I also spent over two and a half hours listening to recordings of my officers dealing with a couple of arrogant and belligerent citizens—a citizens who should be a role models and leaders of our community, yet behaved so badly that I was embarrassed for Roswell. The officers were very professional but that did not stop the individuals from complaining constantly, both during the encounter and latter. It is amazing what officers have to deal with, yet can never lose their composure.

Shortly, I will be leaving this position and heading back to Santa Fe. I have no reservations about returning to the Legislature. I am confident that is the role I am meant to fulfill. Nonetheless, I will be forever thankful for this special opportunity to serve alongside some truly incredible young men and women. They called me “Chief” … how blessed am I.

1 comment:

Ron said...

I'm sure you did an awesome job, Dennis. I was blessed to be able to work with you on the Moreno case in Lovington. You did an awesome job on that. Keep in touch my old friend, and may God bless you and yours.

Ron Black