New Roswell Police Chief Phil Smith, left, greets outgoing Chaves County Sheriff Office Chief Deputy Pat Jennings, right, at his retirement party while Sheriff Rob Coon, center, looks on. (Jessica Palmer Photo)
The Chaves County Sheriff’s Office held a retirement party for Chief Deputy Pat Jennings, Friday, at the Joseph R. Skeen Building. Jennings has been with the SO for nearly 25 years. In all, he’s worked in law enforcement for 37.
“I worked in probation and parole for seven years, with the Roswell Police Department for five and I started with Sheriff’s Office in 1989.”
He was hired by Sheriff Terrell as chief deputy. Jennings was appointed as sheriff in 1998 and then elected for two four-year terms and has now worked as chief deputy under Sheriff Rob Coon.
In his opening statement, Coon said: “Pat’s the thinker of the department. Pat took his time making his decisions, but they were always good decisions. He’s forgotten more about the Sheriff Department than I’ll ever know.”
On a more personal note, Coon admitted that he hated to see Jennings leave. “I’m glad for him, but it’s a loss for the department.”
County Manager Stan Riggs called Jennings a calming, steadying influence for the staff. “I hate to say I’ve he’s seen it all, but he’s seen it all. He’s been through everything in his career. … He started with pen and paper and now we’ve got computers in the cars and computers.”
Lt. Britt Snyder, too, praised the deputy chief. “He’s one of the brightest and most articulate people I know. He’s got a lot of information about what has happened here. I don’t know how we are going to do without him.”
Former Sheriff’s Detective Dennis Kintigh noted that Jennings held either the No. 1 or No. 2 post at the SO for more than 20 years.
“That’s an incredible amount of stability for any law enforcement officer.”
District Attorney Investigator Pat Barncastle went to school with Jennings at New Mexico State University. He spoke of the legacy that Jennings leaves behind.
District Court Judges Freddie Romero and James Hudson also came to wish Jennings farewell. Romero called him a long-time servant of the community.
Each person said that Jennings would be missed. Lt. Daniel Ornelas said he hated to see Jennings go.
For Jennings, retirement is bittersweet. “The Sheriff’s Office has some really quality people. I’ve enjoyed working with the county staff of all the different departments.”
Jennings complimented his wife and sons. “My family has been really supportive. The boys grew up with the Sheriff’s Office, and my wife, we’ve been through thick and thin together.”
His work in law enforcement has rubbed off. The eldest son works with probation and parole in Albuquerque. His youngest is a sergeant with New Mexico State Police stationed in Santa Fe.
Retirement from the SO does not mean Jennings will stop working. He already has another job lined up working security at the courts in Roswell’s Federal Building.