Roswell Police Department’s newest chief, Al Solis, is sworn in during a Change of Command ceremony as Dennis Kintigh, interim chief, looks on. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Alfonso Solis took his oath of of fice as the Roswell Police Departmentâ€™s new chief, at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, in a special ceremony at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center. Solisâ€™ longtime friend, Gov. Susana Martinez, attended.
During the opening remarks, State Representative and Interim Chief Dennis Kintigh said, â€œTo the men and women of the Roswell Police Department, it has been my incredible privilege to serve with you.â€ He told them that they had been an inspiration to him. To the incoming chief, he quipped, â€œIâ€™m so happy to see you.â€
Mayor Del Jurney referred to the occasion as bittersweet, â€œBut when you lose a good man and replace him with another good man, thatâ€™s a pretty good deal.â€ He thanked Kintigh for â€œstepping up to the plateâ€ during the time of transition. â€œWeâ€™re excited about Al Solis,â€ he said. Martinez spoke of her youth as the daughter of a law enforcement of ficer and the wife of a 30-year veteran.
â€œIâ€™ve known Al Solis for many years,â€ she said. â€œHe was a great communicator and heâ€™s able to pull people together. You can have no greater leader after Dennis Kintigh, than Al Solis.â€ Judge Kea W. Riggs administered the oath. Then the new chief took his place at the podium and told the story of his first meeting with the governor when he was subpoenaed before a grand jury two days after he took a job at the Las Cruces jail. About the job, he said, â€œI am humbled by this honor and this obligation.â€
Solis repeated what he said during the press conference when city officials announced his selection for the office. â€œI ask that they give me a chance and I hope in time I will earn your respect,â€ he said.
Solis said his goal was to make children safe and senior citizens comfortable. He called upon the people of the community to assist the police. â€œWe need the help of the citizens,â€ he said. â€œWe need their eyes and ears out there.â€ The event concluded with an awards ceremony. The best employees of the third and fourth quarters were recognized Officer Steve Meredith was honored for his actions during an incident that took place on June 25, when he gained the trust of a man with a gun and saved the lives of his family Detective Mike Stanton was honored for an investigation that resulted in the confiscation of two pounds of cocaine and $11,000 in cash. Sergeants Ron Smith and Rusty Brisco, and Commander Eric Brackeen, each received their badges of promotion.
Officer Mike Law received the Life Saving Award for his efforts during an incident that took place on Oct. 19, when he found a distraught woman trying to give CPR to an infant. He continued the CPR and got the baby to the hospital. Although the infant eventually died, he was praised for his work. Of ficer John Clay received the Police Meritorious award, while Officer Ted Sandoval received the Police Purple Heart. Detectives Keith Rightsell and Doyle Baker received the Medal of Valor and Police Purple Heart.
The four men were honored for their bravery during the David Vega arrest on May 9, when the police were ambushed. Sandoval was wounded and Clay aided the fallen officer. Meanwhile, Rightsell and Baker held their position even though they had been wounded. City Administrator Larry Fry said after the ceremony, â€œHe (Solis) has got big shoes to fill, but heâ€™s the right man for the job.â€
In a brief interview before the ceremony, Kintigh expressed relief that he was now â€œwearing only one hatâ€ as state representative. â€œItâ€™s been a great experience,â€ Kintigh said. â€œIâ€™m afraid that the legislative job has suffered because this one took priority, but now we’re going to be doing good things.â€