Roswell Police Chief Al Solis announced his retirement from the department on Friday.
“I talked to the City on Wednesday.” His retirement will take effect on August 31. He is leaving the department for reasons of health. Solis was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
“I know I have cancer; it’s contained, but it’s not going away. I could have months; I could have 10 years; I could have 20.”
However, Solis remains philosophical and looks back upon a long and productive career in law enforcement. He started as a deputy in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department. In the military, he served with the military police, later moving onto the Army’s investigation division.
He spent 21 years with the U.S. Marshals Service. He was an inspector of the Witness Protection Program. Solis worked his way up the ranks until he became assistant director of the Investigative Services. He oversaw all investigative matters.
Solis then was assigned to be the assistant director of Prisoner Services. In 1987, he was nominated by Sen. Pete Dominici as the presidential marshal for the District of New Mexico. The appointment was confirmed by President Ronald Regan and he served until 1992. When he retired from the Marshals Service, he became the detention center administrator at Doña Ana Detention Center in Las Cruces.
Solis came to Roswell as administrator to the Chaves County Detention Center.
“I’ve been here almost eight years now. Chaves County and Roswell have been good to me. I’ve had good bosses, who have always been supportive.”
One of his goals when he became chief of the Roswell Police Department was to increase community involvement. He feels that the recent programs held by the Roswell Chamber of Commerce and the Chaves County Republican Women reveals real progress. “It’s important to get input from the community.”
Solis proposed a budget to the city, while others applied for grants to obtain the new computer system that dragged the RPD into the 21st century, although he does not take credit for the accomplishment. “We did it. I wasn’t the only person involved in the project.”
He said what he will remember most is: “that we accomplished some things; that we didn’t accomplish others.”
Solis wanted to assure the community that the RPD is a good police department. “There’s a future with the police.”
Discussing New Mexico statutes, he said: “Of course, I have my opinion, but it’s my job to enforce the law not to criticize it. Our job is to secure the community and regardless of personal opinions, this is the best country in the world.
Solis has contributed much to RPD, although he admitted that he had not accomplished everything he would have liked to do. He takes particular pride in the Drug Task Force and is pleased in the cooperation the RPD has attained with the federal government with the U.S. Marshals Service, DEA and U.S Attorney’s Office. He is also glad that he has taken the first steps in restoring the position of resource officers to the schools. “I believe we have done a lot in gang control, although we haven’t gotten rid of them yet.”
He says the SWAT team is well trained. “They are sent out as back up (when officers serve warrants). It’s not that we want to shoot somebody. I want to protect my people … and members of the public.”
Solis offered an apology to the citizens of Roswell that he could not stay longer in the post of chief. “I leave it hopefully better than I found it.”
His priority now is his family. He and his wife, Rosie, plan to go back to live in Las Cruces, so they can be close to his daughter and her husband.
Mayor Del Jurney said: “He will be missed. He came in at a pivotal time when our emphasis was on crime. He came in after we had an interim chief, and he gave consistency and continuity to office.”
Jurney added: “Al Solis has done great things. He made three significant contributions.
“First, he elevated the standard and the expectations of the police department.
“Second, he raised the cooperation and our position with the outside agencies, the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the DEA and Border Patrol. We became more proactive in fighting crime.
“The third is his introduction of, and his insistence on, the position of the police attorney. Law enforcement is the first aspect of police work. The judicial system is another component. When we improve there, in court, then law enforcement becomes prevention.”
Jurney concluded: “We thank him so much for what he’s done for our community.”