The 1980 Penitentiary of New Mexico prison riot may seem to many like ancient news. But state officials recently honored those correctional officers caught up in the tragic events, demonstrating that the officers’ sacrifices, suffering and heroic actions 33 years ago have not been forgotten. Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico Corrections Department Secretary Gregg Marcantel presented Medals of Honor and Medals of Valor to the correctional officers (or the families of deceased officers) in a private ceremony in the Capitol Cabinet Room.
Prisoners at the old state penitentiary south of Santa Fe gained and held control of the facility for 36 hours on Feb. 2 and 3, 1980. In the mayhem that ensued, 33 prisoners died and 15 corrections officers were held captive, some of whom were tortured or abused.
“These men are examples for all of us today in the Corrections Department. Their sense of duty remained unwavering in even the most unspeakable moments of their lives and careers,” Secretary Marcantel said, adding, “We also must remember the inmates who lost their lives and remember that while they were prisoners, they were not sentenced to the death they received at the hands of other inmates.”
Officers receiving awards were: Greg Roybal, Michael Schmitt, Ross Maez, Valentin Martinez, Larry Mendoza, Edward Ortega, Lawrence Lucero, Victor Gallegos, Elton Curry and Antonio Vigil. Several other officers were honored, although the agency was not able to locate them. They are Ramon Gutierrez, Jose D. Anaya, Juan Bustos, Mike Hernandez, Ronnie Martinez, Herman Gallegos and Louis CdeBaca.
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On a happier note, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss has been presented with the 2013 Public Leadership in the Arts Award (for cities with a population of less than 100,000) from the nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts.
The award recognizes Mayor Coss’s “immense dedication to the development of arts programming,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Robert Lynch. Lynch noted that under Coss’s leadership, the City of Santa Fe provides $1.7 million annually in arts-related funding. Santa Fe’s creative industries generate $1.1 billion annually in economic activity.
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The New Mexico Department of Public Safety Law Enforcement Academy recently welcomed Col. Jack Jones (ret.) as its new deputy director. Jones, an Albuquerque native, spent 10 years with the New Mexico State Police, has a military background and has trained law enforcement personnel around the world in basic, advanced and tactical skills. He fills the position vacated by the retirement of Major Andy Montoya of the New Mexico State Police.
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Cerrillos Hills State Park invites the public to practice navigational skills using maps, compasses and other aids on March 2. The on-trail adventure begins at 10 a.m. Call 474-0196 for details.
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