What is your current position?
Elected Sheriff of Eddy County, NM
Elected Trustee for Southeast NM College
President of NM Association of Counties
Vice President NM Sheriffs’ Association
Chairman NM HIDTA Executive Board
Secretary National Sheriffs’ Association
What inspired you to choose this career path?
A desire to serve my community and protect the citizens’ rights. After 10 years of Navy service, I decided that my calling was to continue to serve. Local law enforcement just seemed to fit and I threw myself into it. As corny as it sounds, my greatest pleasure in life is doing good for my fellow man and standing up for those who are unable to do so for themselves.
How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?
It was recommended by my good friend Mark Lamb. In speaking with NSA Executive Director, Jonathan Thompson, he advised me to attend as well.
What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?
Being able to sit and break bread with my benefactor, Adam, who sponsored my fellowship. It was my honor to visit with him and thank him personally. He told me that when he was looking at the potential candidates, I was the obvious choice for him to sponsor. I was thunderstruck. Definitely humbled me and made a significant, lasting impression.
What do you believe will continue to make the Sheriffs’ Fellowship unique and relevant?
There is nothing I know of like it available to elected sheriffs. The need for constitutional education is becoming so necessary as those in power attempt to encroach on our freedoms and rights more and more each day. Sheriffs need to understand the basis for the arguments in which they will inevitably engage. Claremont truly opens one’s eyes to solid, data driven responses to the progressive liberal agenda/tactics. My toolbox is chock full after attending the fellowship and I use those tools daily to better do my job. Additionally, it is evident that Claremont does not sit idly and preach the same information time after time. The tireless efforts by the scholars and staff shows through in the regular updates and articles we are regularly provided with. Again, there is nothing I am aware of that even comes close.
Who is your favorite American founder or statesman who has shaped America history and American political thought and why?
George Washington by far and large. I was blessed to attend the GW Mount Vernon Leadership Institute during my first time as President of the New Mexico Association of Counties. I learned so much truth about our first President that is clouded by cute little stories of chopping down cherry trees and such. The man was a true leader, a literal and figurative giant among men who refused a kingdom and genuinely put our country before himself. The Institute allowed us to see the birth of our country through Washington’s vision as well as seeing his true greatness through the eyes of his colleagues. I was so moved by the experience that I ran out purchased a print off GW praying next to his horse. It’s displayed in my dining room next to my chair at the head of the table so that it can inspire me every day. It was a truly eye-opening experience and one I will never forget.
What would the artifact be, if you could hold one piece of history from the early founding of our country and why?
Already done although it would be impossible to hold so I stood on it. After 9/11 I was recalled by the Navy. I was sent to Boston where I was to serve on the USS Constitution. I was detailed there for a year where I was tasked with setting security procedures in place which would allow her to be opened back up to the public. I was also the captain’s personal security detail for events and appearances. Anyway, the ship has been restored and repaired countless times over the years but the keel (the literal backbone of the ship) and a wooden crossmember are verified as the original pieces from when she was built in 1797. I can’t even count how many times I would walk down to the bottom of the ship and stand on that keel and touch that crossmember. I can’t say that the ghosts of the past spoke to me but it was truly something else to touch the original keel of the first ship of the United States Navy!
What qualities do you believe are necessary for effective leadership?
My son and I have developed and teach a series of leadership courses. The first topic in each course are principles of leadership. Above all, effective leaders must have integrity, accountability, and a strong moral compass. The three go hand in hand but I feel that integrity is the basis of any successful enterprise. A leader’s unwavering sense of what is right and wrong coupled with honesty and credibility will set the tone for an entire agency. Without accountability, the standards, goals, and the entire mission are put at risk. To achieve the best possible outcomes and maintain credibility, effective leaders must first hold themselves publicly and privately accountable. Once the example is set that same strict accountability must be adhered to down the chain of command to the last link in the chain. Finally, a leaders moral compass must be calibrated and referred to on a regular basis. That moral compass will help map out the path the leader must follow to maintain his integrity and accountability, thus providing the building blocks to a successful organization’s success.
What is the most important idea Americans need to protect and defend about the American Way of Life?
Freedom, freedom, and freedom. We are seeing the progressive liberals chip away at our true freedoms and liberty in the name of inclusion, equality and they use the term VERY loosely: freedom. They stand on dead children to further their passion for disarming American citizens. Our own governor here in New Mexico just attempted to suspend the Second Amendments of the US and the NM Constitutions with a sweep of her magic wand. She didn’t even bother to couch it in any legal mumbo jumbo or any case law. She just did it and told us to deal with it. She even went as far as to say that public officials’ oaths are not absolute and that NO rights are either, including the 1st Amendment. Will she suspend freedom of speech next? In the name of social justice and every other woke term they could conjure, the progressives allowed Seattle’s law-abiding citizens’ property and lively hoods be destroyed. They tolerated and even encouraged lawlessness in the name of freedom. But that’s not how freedom in a republic works and we all know it. I think we all also know that no one is personally equal to another person. We are all individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses. Where equality comes in is under freedom and rights. Every citizen should have the same basic freedoms and rights but what separates us is how we utilize our freedoms and our liberty to succeed and thrive. We are not a socialist society. We have to rain against any efforts to make us one.
Do you have a favorite quote? Why does it resonate with you?
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Iron Mike Tyson
Although the man was plagued with his own demons, this quote by him sums up any battle or adversity we have to deal with. I learned a long time ago in military and civilian tactical training that the more intricate and definitive a plan is, the more chance it has of failure when old man chaos tosses in an unknown or an unaccounted-for element. My philosophy is to always have a plan, always play the “what if” game but also know that a situation can shift like mercury on a glass plate and if your battle plan is stiff and unyielding you will lose more times than not.
What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in New Mexico’s Eddy County you genuinely admire and appreciate?
We don’t back down to the progressive, liberal agenda. We are predominantly conservative and we hold to traditional American values. We are genuinely accepting of other ways of thought as long as they are not thrust upon others. Our patriotism and pride in our country runs strong through the veins of Eddy County and we are not shy about it.
What do you believe are the top three law enforcement issues currently facing America?
Misinformation from the press, uninformed legislators and others with access and influence over the masses. People by and large believe what they read. Even if they don’t believe it, they are most times influenced by it in some way. Defund the police, BLM and other anti-law enforcement movements continue to be fueled by a mostly corrupt press corps and folks in power who are just plain uninformed. These people play on the emotions of the masses, painting us as the Gestapo with jackboots and far too many buy it.
A lack of accountability for those that wantonly chose to violate the laws and public trust. And when there is accountability, it never appears to be consistent or transparent. We continue to operate in a system of haves and have nots but even that is giving way to a general lawlessness where the average citizen becomes a perpetual victim as we saw in Seattle during that city’s castration of their police department.
Widespread and systemic corruption within the federal and state governments. I truly believe this is the root numbers 1 and 2 above. Progressive liberals have an agenda and destabilization by way of crippling law enforcement, in my opinion, is part of their plan.
What do you believe can be done to prioritize hardening soft targets in today’s volatile environment, i.e., public gatherings?
Public awareness must be brought up to par without the misinformation and liberal biases toward law enforcement and firearms. Education is crucial and that education must be untainted and unbiased. The focus must be on actual threats and tried and true methods to mitigate, if not entirely avoid them. Interestingly enough, my office has initiated a training program in our community called Operation Hard Target in which we provide security assessments, training, and information for schools, churches, seniors and anyone else who requests our help.
If you could communicate one thing to politicians and Americans alike about the importance of policing, what would it be?
Seattle and several other large, woke cities are finding out what communities without law enforcement are like. Most politicians and so many people have absolutely no idea what we face on a daily basis. Folks are all too quick to render summary judgements and criticize without knowing the facts and without having a true basis of knowledge. I recommend these people go to citizen police academies, participate in reality-based training on simulators if they can and see what we actually do and the complexities of making split second decisions during dynamic, dangerous encounters. There are a few bad cops, but the vast majority are out there trying to make the world a better place and put their lives on the line willingly and without hesitation.
At the end of a stressful day what brings you peace of mind?
That me and people like me are still out there doing God’s work. We haven’t given up and on so many ways we are seeing success. The heavy lifting and fearless pushback that I see coming out of Claremont inspires me to do more and be bolder in my approach. Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of it!