Character Counts celebrated its 20th anniversary this week. During the Honoring the Badge ceremony, Wednesday evening, members of law enforcement took time to consider the job done by officials throughout Chaves County.
Tim Fuller of the Character Counts selection committee said in his opening statements: “With everything that has happened this week, brings it close to home. It’s important to honor our law enforcement officers who we so often take for granted.
Judge Alvin F. Jones reminded people of the sacrifices officers and their families make every day. “Modern policing is a minefield. Our officers go out of their way to provide exceptional service to their community. Everyone wants someone to call on and… then ask why they haven’t solved their cases yet.”
He praised the nominees and wanted to remind the community that it is law enforcement officers who clean things up when things go wrong.
President of Pioneer Bank Jon Hitchcock and sponsor of the event told the group he was honored to participate and offered his thanks to all first responders. “Without their sacrifices, Roswell wouldn’t be the wonderful community it is today.”
Chaves County Sheriff’s Lt. Britt Snyder, who coordinates the nomination process, received an award for his services to Character Counts. He received training at the Josephson Institute. “The Institute helps you recognize what character is.”
He quipped that this year was something of a record with four agencies nominating candidates. He urged Hagerman and Dexter police departments to participate, noting that he had started in a small town and knew what a challenging environment rural communities and their politics presented to law enforcement.
He listed the nominees, including: Chief Cass Mason of Hagerman, Officer Clifton Frosch of the Roswell Police Department, Deputy Max “Shane” Baker and Chief Pete Montez of Dexter.
Snyder introduced one of two winners, Deputy Shane Baker of the CCSO, who has 23 years of experience as police chief of Hope. Snyder said that Baker is the deputy who polices the outer area of Chaves County, around the oilfield and among the ranches. He added, “As an administrator I receive the complaints. I was getting complaints from the county about a speeder and it was Shane that solved the problem.”
Snyder said Baker exemplifies the Six Pillars of Character — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship. “His good character has always won the day.”
Mason introduced his nominee, Pete Montez. Mason spoke of Montez’s responsibility and his devotion to duty and his fairness. “I’ve never met a more trustworthy man…. He respects those he serves. He always treats people with dignity and respect.”
Snyder reflected on the accident that occurred on Monday that placed a Roswell police officer in a hospital and recalled when CCSO Sgt. Ray Campos had his leg crushed in a traffic accident. “You better believe it flashed through my mind when I saw that officer being hit.” Then he thanked his wife and his three sons for their support through the years.
At the end of the ceremony, Fuller said simply: “Thank you for protecting us.”