Vigil reports for duty

Tribal member, Jesse Vigil, is currently training for sixteen weeks at the Indian Police Academy in Artesia, NM. Vigil hopes to open the doors for other tribal members to join law enforcement.
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum

Southern Ute tribal member, Jesse Vigil, has new visions set for his future, as he is currently attending the Indian Police Academy in Artesia, NM, just south of Roswell. Vigil will be spending sixteen weeks in training with hopes of being the first Southern Ute officer since 2012.

“The Southern Ute Police Department does not have any tribal officers, so I’m hoping this will open the door for other tribal members to join the force and take care of our people,” Vigil stated in an interview before his departure. “My training will consist of book work, use of force, firearms, and the basic police run down.”

A special barbeque was held for Vigil’s attribution on Friday, June 5. Family members of Vigil paid their respects and showed admiration for the choices in his future.

“I know he pursues what he wants. I know he’s going to do fine,” said Tara Vigil, Jesse’s mother. “Everything he’s done, he’s been great at. [The Tribe] hasn’t had a tribal member officer in awhile, so we’re hopeful he’ll succeed. We need more of our people looking after each other. I hope he can be a role model to the younger folks.”

Ray Coriz, Southern Ute Police Department chief of police, also commended Vigil for his dedication. “We have one hundred percent confidence he’ll go down [to Artesia] with a good heart. I’m proud that he’s a tribal member attending the academy. We support him and we know he can do it. He’ll have motivation from his family back home, and I look forward to him getting the job done.”

The Indian Police Academy was first established in 1968, originally on the site of the former Air Force base in Roswell. It was eventually relocated to Artesia in January 1993 under the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The program is designed for the training of both BIA and tribal law enforcement officers, qualified potential Indian Police Officers, and other law enforcement personnel working on or near Indian Reservations.

“This has been a dream of Jesse’s, and he’s taking it one step at a time,” stated Lieutenant Chris Naranjo. “The training is tough and challenging, but he has it in his heart. He’s going to be one of the leaders, and I see nothing but success for him.”

“I feel nervous, but I’m excited. I look forward to it,” Vigil concluded. “The officers are good at what they do, and I hope to bring trust between them and tribal members.”

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