Record Staff Writer
Officials from city, state and county gathered at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center, Tuesday, to bid Roswell Police Chief Alfonso Solis farewell. Solis retired after he found out that he has cancer. He will return to Las Cruces where his family lives.
Representatives of every law enforcement agency attended, including Capt. Dina Orozco of the New Mexico State Police, Lt. Britt Snyder from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, members of the U.S. Marshals Service, Crime Stoppers President Steve Wolfe and Richard Lucero of Neighborhood Watch.
Mayor Del Jurney spoke first, proclaiming Sept. 3, 2013, Al Solis Day. He thanked Solis for opening up the lines of communication between City Hall and the police department and gaining cooperation between the various agencies, including the F.B.I and U.S. Marshal Service, which led to the first police round-up of suspected drug traffickers. Jurney then presented Solis with the key to the City.
Secretary of the Department of Public Safety Gordon E. Eden Jr., traveled down from Santa Fe to attend. He discussed Solis’ long years of service to his country and New Mexico. Eden, like Solis, had served as the U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico, starting in 2002, and he reminded people what an important position it was, requiring presidential appointment and confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Solis served as President Ronald Reagan’s appointee from 1987 to 1992. Eden said until Solis took over the post that New Mexico was known in Washington as Area 51 since so little was known about it.
Secretary for the Department of the Corrections Gregg Marcantel arrived to thank Solis for his service to the state when he worked as interim secretary early in Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration. One of Solis’ duties was to select a permanent successor for the Department of Correction. Marcantel was hired for the job. He said Solis’ skill, knowledge and training were invaluable to when he took over the position.
Originally, Martinez had planned to attend, but had to meet with the Department of Energy in Los Alamos. First Gentleman Chuck Franco spoke for both of them when he said that in the position as administrator of Doña County Detention Center, Solis turned the facility around. “He treated employees in a way that they had never been treated before and he also treated the prisoners with respect… Then Roswell stole him away from us.”
City Manager Larry Fry recounted the selection process for the Roswell Police Department’s new chief. He said that when he began the hunt nearly three years ago, Solis’ background in law enforcement, beginning in the armed services in the 1960s; his references, which included Martinez, and his reputation for integrity, made Solis the right man for the job.
Jurney noted that behind every good man is a great wife. He gave a special thanks to wife, Rosie Solis, for lending her husband to the city for the last three years.
Deputy Chief Phil Smith acted as spokesman for the department, stating he had worked in law enforcement for years, but had to travel 2,200 miles to meet a man like Al Solis.
The Patriot Guard Riders formed the flag line to honor Solis and welcomed those who attended the event. PGR Maryann Murphy, Mike Murphy and their service dog, Dom, presented him with a pin and a Challenge Coin from the Guard Riders.
After the presentation, Diane Taylor of the Every 15 Minutes program said that she was going to miss Solis. “There can be no better chief than Al Solis.”
Solis, who had been reported in the past as saying that employees are an institution’s most valuable asset, spoke briefly thanking the Narcotics Task Force, the Special Services group and all the RPD officers who serve on the streets for their hard work and their dedicated service.