At the age of 22, adults don’t always make the best decisions for themselves. For Tom Moody, however, it was at that moment he would start an everlasting career with the Roswell Police Department.
After almost 24 years with the department, the Los Alamos-native retired this month.
While Aug. 10 was his final day as commander of the criminal investigations division at the RPD, Moody said he’s enjoyed working in all aspects of law enforcement while in Roswell.
“I started here at the Roswell Police Department in September 1993, and been here ever since,” Moody said. “Probably my favorite position that I ever held was being a patrol sergeant.”
Throughout his career, Moody said he worked to act as a positive influence for incoming officers.
“Being able to teach them things that I know and watch them flourish — and help them to become better,” he said.
Born and raised in northern New Mexico, Moody said he was drawn to structure. He attended the New Mexico Military Institute for high school.
“It appeared to just be the best choice of schools for me at the time,” Moody said. “I liked a certain amount of order and stuff like that, so I figured that, probably, New Mexico Military Institute was better for me than Santa Fe High School.”
Part of the third generation of law enforcement in his family, Moody originally had plans to follow in his father’s footsteps before he chose to become a police officer.
“My father was a game warden, my grandfather was a game warden and actually, my other grandfather was a deputy sheriff and firefighter,” Moody said. “I actually thought really hard about being a game warden, but back at the time, during the early ’90s, there were some strange court decisions that kind of limited some of the game warden’s law enforcement authority.
“(With the) city police department, you’ve got all the statutory authority that there is to be a police officer and to enforce laws and to help people. It’s kind of why I came here.”
After graduating from NMMI, Moody studied at New Mexico State University, went to Alaska and came back to New Mexico to begin his career as a police officer in Truth or Consequences at the age of 21.
Moody said his family had moved from northern New Mexico to Roswell around this time.
“From Truth or Consequences, I actually came here to Roswell and worked as a police officer out of Eastern New Mexico University for a couple of months,” he said. “I had applied with them and the Roswell Police Department at the same time, and then got hired by the Roswell Police Department.”
Working for the RPD brought him closer to family, Moody said.
“I started out as a patrol officer,” Moody said. “I’ve been fortunate in my career here in the Roswell Police Department. I’ve done just about everything there is to do, except working in narcotics.”
Moody said other positions he fulfilled while at the RPD included the roles of field training officer, traffic officer, training coordinator and for a period of time when the department had them, K-9 handler.
Other duties included the position of detective sergeant, patrol captain, a sergeant in support services, commander over the street crimes division and working in internal affairs.
“I always felt like I was doing my best to help the community in whatever way I could,” Moody said. “One of the most important things I found out is, relationships outside of law enforcement are also very important.
“Not only for realizing what’s going on in the community, but also for your own kind of mental stability and stuff like that.”
Moody said one of the main qualities he carries with himself is integrity.
“In order to be a police officer, you have to be honest,” he said. “You have to treat everybody the same as best you can.”
Moody referenced a line from the 1989 film “Road House” for a belief he carried while policing: “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”
“That was mostly my philosophy while I was working. Treat people nice — as nice as they’ll let you,” he said. “If you treat people nicely, and with respect, there’s a whole lot better interaction with folks.”
Moody, who spoke about the challenges associated with pay, and sometimes people encountered, said the role of a police officer can get to be difficult.
“We almost never deal with somebody on their best day,” Moody said. “They’re getting a ticket, or their brother’s been shot or their house has been broken into — so they’re having a bad day anyway.
“It’s kind of almost a thankless job sometimes, — it can get frustrating if you’re arresting somebody over and over and over and they’re always getting out of jail, and stuff like that, but you have to remember that we have a job to do — and that’s to serve the public.”
Moody said, in order for him to do his job, he had to be honest and do what is right.
“All you have is your own personal integrity,” he said. “That’s all you’ve got at the end of the day.”
After retiring from the RPD, Moody said the next step for him is working at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. In order to be a good leader, Moody said one must be able to teach others how to fill their place.
“None of us are irreplaceable,” Moody continued. “There’s a certain amount of knowledge in everything that you do that needs to be passed on to the next generation coming up behind you, who are — hopefully — going to do it better than I did.”
Moody said his new position at FLETC won’t be as time-demanding as it was at the RPD, allowing him to dedicate more time to family.
“I’m hoping to be able to spend more time with my boys and my wife, and just do some family things with them in addition to this as my job,” he said. “I’m relatively a young fella — I’m not as young as I’d like to think I am, (but) I got a lot of work left in me.
“I got a lot of positive influence I can (still) have in other people’s lives, and that’s kind of what I’m hoping for — is to be able to work with some of these people and get to know them and, probably some of them will rub off on me, and hopefully, some of me will rub off on them.”
Back in Roswell, Moody said he believes the RPD will continue and flourish.
“They’ve got a lot of good people working for them,” he said. “They’ve got a good training staff, they have supervisors who care. Probably nowadays, the police department is better-trained and equipped than they ever have been. In order to keep honoring the profession, that’ll just have to keep getting better and better over the future.”
Moody said everything he’s done has been for a reason greater than himself.
“Part of that, I think was my duty. I’m a believer in Christ, and one of the things that I think is, everything you do, you do to God’s glory, and not to yourself,” he said. “So if I can do the very best I can, really it’s not reflecting on me, really all that does is show that I actually care about people, care about my community and I care about how good things are perceived.”
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A broken world
Still, Moody said police officers will continue to be needed.
“It’s necessary in our society,” Moody said. “I would encourage anybody who is thinking about law enforcement to look at it. Especially here in Roswell.
“We’ve got great leaders, great equipment, the job is fun, we get to do a lot of work that agencies don’t get to.
“Here at the Roswell Police Department, we can do pretty much all of that.”
Moody said in today’s society, there also isn’t enough listening to those who are different.
“We see a lot of things going on in our country, and even sometimes locally, where people aren’t open to listening to other people, and they aren’t open to compromising with other people,” Moody said. “In order for things to work, we can’t be that way.
“We live in a broken world anyway. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need police officers, there wouldn’t be people out there breaking laws if things weren’t broken. So the more kindness we can put into the world, then the better off things are going to be.”
Moody added that respect for parents and members of authority has also been a factor that’s changed.
“I think all of my family, whether it was my father, or my grandfathers or my mother, all of them just kind of instilled, number one, respect,” Moody said. “Number two, integrity, and just trying to do right because it’s right.”
Thinking back on all of the years he’s spent in Roswell, Moody said his time at the RPD was, for the most part, “a pretty awesome career.”
“Obviously, just like anything else, there’s been highs and lows and stuff like that,” he said. “But for me, it was a great career choice, and something that I was fortunately pretty good at.”
Moody said while there are some people simply determined to be criminals, there are also a few he believes he has helped.
“If you can intercede early, then you can kind of guide on a different path,” Moody said. “Hopefully I’ve been able to do that with some folks, and hopefully Roswell is a little bit better because of what I did.”
Moody said respect will continue to be a primary practice throughout his life and law enforcement career.
“I think that my job, as a Christian, is to love God, and love people, and serve them both well,” Moody ended. “And hopefully, I can do that.”
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.