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.
(photo by 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
"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."