Capt. Dina Orozco is the only woman to attain the rank of captain in the New Mexico State Police.
Captain Dina Orozco is the only woman to achieve the rank of captain in the New Mexico State Police. She has had 16 years with the State Police and her background is law.
Originally from Santa Fe, Orozco received two associates degrees, the first as a paralegal. After working in civil law, she decided that she wanted to work in criminal law, but found jobs hard to find without a background in criminal justice. Therefore, she returned to Santa Fe Community College to get another degree.
“The community college was smaller then, so the students were sent to New Mexico’s Academy,” Orozco said. When she was there, she had the opportunity to get hands-on experience in such things as crime scene investigation.
One of the professors recruited her for the State Police.
As an officer, Orozco has lived all over the state. Her first post was in Tucumcari where she stayed for three years. Then she was moved to Clovis where she worked as recruiter. Later she started as a criminal agent over a territory which covered nearly all of southeast New Mexico. “I worked cases in Chaves County, Roswell and Hobbs,” she said.
Since Orozco joined the State Police in 1995, she received a series of promotions. “I tested for sergeant, passed and went to Santa Rosa,” Orozco said.
She then tested for lieutenant, after which she was sent to Espanola for two-and-a-half years. “In June I was promoted to captain and then I came here.”
Orozco says that she likes the area. One of her goals for both her and her officers is to become more involved in Roswell. “I would like to be more active in the community.”
To that end, she and other members of New Mexico State Police attended the Roswell Refuge Purple Ribbon Dinner this past week.
She took the time to explain the duties and jurisdictions of the State Police. “New Mexico is divided into 12 districts. This district, the third, covers Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties. We are a police organization and not the highway patrol. In many areas of the state, rural areas, we are the primary law enforcement agency.”
Although the men and women of the State Police are assigned to a certain district, they may get sent anywhere they are needed. “We get requests from all over the state. They (the officers) work the fairs, fires and natural disasters. During the tornado in Clovis in 2006, we assisted with doing searches of buildings that had been damaged or destroyed to look for the injured.”
In the case of fires, the New Mexico State Police will not only assist in notifications and evacuations, but provide emergency coordination of all the emergency services.
Like other law enforcement agencies, New Mexico’s 3rd District is short on staff. “Our numbers are down. We have had a number of retirements.… We have one captain, one lieutenant, and six patrol. In Carlsbad, we have one sergeant and five patrol and in Hobbs, there’s one sergeant and four patrol officers,” said Orozco.
To make up for the shortfall, Orozco keeps a certain number of people on call at all times.
She described the New Mexico State Police as a good place to work and she urges people who are interested in a career with the State Police to look up their website under training and recruiting. “We do testing locally, so people can start the process here.”
Orozco complimented her officers. “We have a hard working group here.”
Orozco enjoys her job and hopes that other women might consider the New Mexico State Police as a career choice. “Right now we have 12 women statewide, but I’m the only captain.”
She acknowledges that it can be hard work, but she feels in the long run it is rewarding. “Sometimes your greatest accomplishment comes from the greatest sacrifice.”