Naranjo celebrates 23 years of service

Chris Naranjo, working as a patrol sergeant for SUPD, stands with his daughter, Alicia, at an Ignacio High School basketball game in 2004. For Lt. Naranjo, the job is all about community service.
Courtesy Chris Naranjo

This month marks 23 years of service for Lt. Chris Naranjo with the Southern Ute Police Department, starting on Aug. 1, 1995.

Hired by the late Eugene Naranjo, and Chairman Leonard C. Burch — Naranjo has worked his way through SUPD, holding numerous positions over the years including: dispatch, patrol, community resource officer, senior patrol officer, sergeant, investigator, and even acting police chief. “I have literally held every position here, which is part of the reason I’ve stuck around so long,” Naranjo reflected. “I have always been treated well, and enjoy working here — it has become my home.”

Coincidentally, Naranjo attended Police Academy in Marana, Ariz. In 1992 alongside Southern Ute tribal member Jack Frost II, the two would later work side by side on the Southern Ute Reservation. Naranjo hails from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, where he served on the Tribal Police Force before joining SUPD. “I work with a great bunch of men and women who leave their families every day to put their life on the line for the membership and the community,” he said.

“Tribal police work has always been one of my passions, being from Santa Clara Pueblo — it’s closeto  home,” Naranjo said. “I want to thank the community for their support, I have grown to become friends with a lot of people over the years, and I appreciate that. [In this position] you deal with hardships, and tough times that people are going through, but at the end of the day, it’s my daughter — that brings a smile to my face.”

Quite a bit has changed in over two decades of police work, Naranjo reflects. SUPD had a staff of just five when he first came on with the department, that number has since grown to 22. Technology has changed too. He remembers using typewriters for reports, carbon copies and Polaroid film cameras.

Looking to the future. “We want to encourage young tribal members to police their communities. To see someone like Jesse Vigil sign on to work with SUPD, learning and growing, that is really inspiring,” Naranjo stated. “We’ve got quite a few Southern Ute tribal members on the force. It is my hope that they will be the ones leading the department when I retire.”

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