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First responders recognized at ‘Honor the Badge’; First-responder leaders are recognized during ceremony

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The Character Counts! Honor the Badge awards ceremony took place Wednesday at the Chaves County Administrative Center. Photographed, from left, are Christopher G. Palmer, President/COO Pioneer Bank; Roswell Fire Department, Fire Apparatus Operator Paul Gallegos; Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Sergeant Doug Perham; New Mexico State Police, Officer Samuel Wiley; Roswell Police Department, Officer Richard Romero; Sheriff Britt Snyder and Judge Alvin Jones. (Submitted Photo)

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There are six pillars of character that make up the core ethical values of Character Counts! Qualities like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship were all identified in four first-responders in Chaves County.

Doug Perham of the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, Richard Romero of the Roswell Police Department, Samuel Wiley of the New Mexico State Police and Paul Gallegos of the Roswell Fire Department were the recognized recipients at this year’s “Honoring the Badge” event at the Joseph R. Skeen Building Commission Chambers Wednesday. The reception was sponsored by Pioneer Bank.

Character Counts! In Chaves County coordinator Britt Snyder presented the award to each recipient.

The Chaves County Sheriff said when he got the opportunity to coordinate the organization about five years ago, he didn’t hesitate.

“I’m glad I took it on, and I’ll be there just as long as they’ll let me,” Snyder said. “I really like what it stands for — it gives us a chance to recognize the positive traits in our people that work hard every day and don’t always get much credit for it.”

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Snyder said he contacted chiefs and supervisors, encouraging them to not only nominate someone, but participate.

The reception welcomed about 70 people — the largest crowd he thinks the organization has seen.

Snyder said he nominated Detective Sgt. Doug Perham, who’s been with the Sheriff’s Office for about 18 years.

“He’s been with us for a while,” Snyder said. “He’s our detective sergeant, so he’s got three detectives that he supervises and works with — they get all the worst cases — all the murders, child abuse cases — that’s the kind of stuff they’re stuck investigating, and it’s a tough gig, but it’s got to be done.”

Commander Fil Gonzales from the Roswell Police Department’s Support Services nominated recruiting and training officer Richard Romero.

“Officer Romero is a caring individual who is passionate about his career as well as the career of new hires and seasoned officers,” Gonzales said. “Officer Romero was also a detective with the Criminal Investigations Division for about six years. During that time, he had one of the highest clearances of cases and arrests within the division, seeking justice for each individual victim.”

The RPD said Romero has worked for the department in various roles through the course of 14 and a half years. His current position is in the Support Services Division.

“Officer Romero treats all people with dignity and respect, from applicants to officers, supervisors, city officials and citizens of the community,” Gonzales added. “I constantly hear him on the phone or in person talking to people, encouraging them to come test with the Roswell Police Department. Officer Romero takes the time to explain the process to each potential applicant and encourages them at least to come participate in the testing process. He does not hesitate to encourage an individual by explaining to them how to prepare for the written exams, interviews and physical fitness portions of the testing process.”

RPD Chief of Police Phil Smith mentioned the manning issues of the department, and how Romero has been able to adapt.

“So when we were down 22 officers, we needed to shake things up, and through promotions and natural attrition, the Support Services Division received fresh blood and one of which is Officer Richard Romero,” Smith said. “Romero currently has had direct involvement with the six recruits at the police academy, the 16 scheduled to attend the January academy class and the six new hires now in training at the PD. If I were to sum him up, it would be a hard worker and very good at whatever he tasks himself with.”

Samuel Wiley of the New Mexico State Police has been with the department for almost four years.

Sgt. Don Gwyn of the NMSP spoke of Wiley’s character.

“He’s just an outstanding officer,” Gwyn said. “He’s always pleasant to be around, never in a bad mood.”

The sergeant said if there’s ever a call that needs to be taken, Wiley is always “right there, knocking on the door to take it.”

“He treats people in the public with utmost respect. He’s just a wonderful guy,” Gwyn said. “When he’s not at work, he volunteers a lot of his time to the Boy Scouts with his son.”

Gwyn said the officer also helps his daughter at bake sales at school and raises DWI awareness to high school students with “Every 15 Minutes.”

“It’s a program that they put on the high school every year to bring DWI and crashes to the awareness of high school students,” Gwyn explained. “He does that every year.

“He’s a great all-around officer, and the things he does outside of work are outstanding, and he really is just an outstanding human being period.”

Roswell Fire Department Lt. Dan Fuller nominated fire apparatus operator Paul Gallegos, who has been with the RFD for 6 and a half years. Fuller said there are many things to be learned from Gallegos, including his work ethic and his drive for excellence.

“However, one of the greatest attributes that Paul possesses is his desire to care for and love others,” Fuller said. “When Paul sees the opportunity to serve, he always exceeds the expectations, selflessly giving of his time and talent. He never desires to be the center of attention, or even receive recognition for that matter. His only desire is to make sure those around him are taken care of.”

Fuller said while Gallegos exhibits all six pillars of character, his devotion to the community is what shines the brightest.

“Not only has Paul served for the past 6 and a half years as a member of the Roswell Fire Department, he also serves as a coach for many youth sporting events such as Roswell youth football, as well as Little League Baseball,” Fuller said. “I could not imagine this award being given to anyone more deserving than Paul. He strives to live a life of character, and does not disappoint.”

Snyder ended, saying that Judge Alvin Jones was very much so the godfather of Character Counts! In Chaves County. The sheriff went over the six pillars of character.

Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

“And if you live by those,” he said, “for the most part, you’re going to get along just fine.”

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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