Former Police Chief Al Solis says his final farewell to the City of Roswell at a party held in his honor on Sept. 3. (Courtesy Photo)
Former Roswell Police Chief Al Solis died in Las Cruces around 9 a.m. Monday.
Solis was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. He announced his retirement on July 26. He said then: “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.”
After he retired, Solis returned to Las Cruces to spend time with his family. He could boast a long and productive career in law enforcement. He started as a deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department. In the military, he served with the military police, later moving on to 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 Domenici as the Presidential Marshal for the District of New Mexico. The appointment was confirmed by then- Pres. Ronald Reagan and served until 1992. When Solis took over the post, New Mexico was known in Washington as Area 51 since so little was known about it.
After he retired from the Marshals Service, he moved into the area of correction as administrator of Doña Ana County Detention Center. Solis got to know Gov. Susana Martinez when she was district attorney in Las Cruces and he was the jail administrator. He worked as interim secretary of the Department of Corrections early in her administration. His primary duty was to select a permanent successor for the Department of Correction, Gregg Marcantel.
One of Solis’ goals when he became chief of the Roswell Police Department was to increase community involvement. He felt that the town hall meetings held by the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and programs for Roswell Chamber of Commerce and the Chaves County Republican Women revealed progress in this area. “It’s important to get input from the community.”
Solis proposed the budget to the city to obtain the new computer system that dragged the RPD into the 21st century. In a previous interview he told the Daily Record: “Whole forests are dying for our records department.” Later he refused to take credit. “We did it. I wasn’t the only person involved in the project.”
The city fathers said he will be missed. “Al contributed to our community. He was in law enforcement for years and contributed greatly wherever he served. Our hearts go out to his family,” said Mayor Del Jurney
City Administrator Larry Fry said that he was saddened to hear about the death and his sympathy goes out to the family. “Certainly we were very appreciative of the work he did for the community.”
Deputy Chief Phil Smith acted as spokesman for the department when it came time for the City to say farewell. “I have worked in law enforcement for years, but I had to travel 2,200 miles to meet a man like Al Solis.”