A crowd of over 100 people gathered Friday (Nov. 12) at the Pacheco Cemetery on Camino del Medio in Taos to say a final farewell to former Taos Ski Valley Police Chief Sammy Trujillo after his passing on Nov. 3.

Friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers took up much of the cemetery, while cars lined Camino del Medio and traffic was redirected due to the large number of mourners.

Trujillo was driven from DeVargas Funeral Home in Española to Española Plaza Park, where his initial service was held at 11 a.m. From there, Trujillo was escorted by law enforcement to his home in Peñasco before being taken to his burial plot at Pacheco Cemetery in Taos.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, who helped with the funeral escort, said it was a sad time for the people of Taos Ski Valley and those who knew Trujillo. “Sammy was a good man. I knew him back when he was patrolling the Ski Valley a long time ago, and peripherally we worked together for a lot of years,” said Hogrefe.

“He was just a fair and honest man. It's what makes anybody a good person. And with him, he carried that into his duties as a police officer,” added Hogrefe.

Village of Taos Ski Valley Mayor Christoff Brownell expressed his sadness over the village’s loss of a close coworker and friend. "From the first time I met Sammy in the Ski Valley over 20 years ago he was always so friendly, kind, and easy going,” he said in a statement, describing working alongside Trujillo as a “pleasure and a joy.”

Brownell noted Trujillo’s positive attitude and sense of humor. “His dedication and commitment to his job and our community was immeasurable … No matter the extent of an emergency, Sammy was always calm, level headed, and handled every situation with thoughtful professionalism.”

Former village mayor and current TIDD Board Chairman Neal King also spoke to Trujillo’s character. “He was just a really decent human being… It's so sad. He's part of our family up here.”

King reminisced about memories with Trujillo, who he said he had known for over 20 years. At one time, the two chased a bear out of the St. Bernard Hotel. Another time, Trujillo gave King (who was mayor at the time) a parking ticket for overextending his stay in a 10-minute loading zone.

“I deserved it,” King admitted. “They insisted in the village office when I paid it that they take a picture of me, and they stuck it on the wall so when people came in and complained about parking tickets, they’d say ‘he got one!’

King said Trujillo was an ultimately fair police chief who treated everyone with respect. “He just did the right stuff at the right time, including giving me a ticket.”

Village Administrator John Avila described Trujillo as a team player, with “never an unprofessional, disloyal, or false instance in any transaction.”

Avila noted some of Chief Trujillo’s many accomplishments, including being involved in safety signage and traffic concerns and advancing local traffic legislation; increasing training for police staff; working in his spare time to repair the village’s office building; updating IT, furniture and computers at the Village Complex; and heading the safety committee during the COVID-19 pandemic, among many others.

Trujillo began his career at the Village of Taos Ski Valley as a police officer in June of 1999, becoming chief in 2018. According to a statement from the village, he also garnered certifications in “many areas of law enforcement during his tenure at the village.”

He trained in many different areas of policing, garnering certifications through FEMA, the New Mexico Gang Task Force, the Comma Institute for Law Enforcement Executives, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

Trujillo was also certified as a first responder by the state department of health in 2020.

Born and raised at the Red River Fish Hatchery in Questa (his father was a wildlife conservationist), Trujillo grew up with a penchant for the outdoors. After graduating from Taos High School in 1974, he worked as a 911 dispatcher at Taos Central Dispatch before joining the Taos Ski Valley Police Department.

Trujillo is survived by his wife of 20 years, Darlene Trujillo, his sons Elias Trujillo (Lariane), Adrian M. Martinez, and daughter Desiree Visarraga (Alex); his brothers and sisters, Ted Trujillo (Loretta), Teresina Valdez, Clarence Trujillo (Vickie), John Trujillo (Evelyn), Richard Trujillo (Myra), Alice Gallegos, Ruby Tafoya (Santiago), Eloy Trujillo (Valerie), Steve Trujillo (Betty), Diane Trujillo, and Ernesto Trujillo (Jennifer); his grand-children Aria Trujillo, James, Lexi, and Gabriel Visarraga; his in-law Demetrio Ortega (Ruth); brother In-Laws Wilbert Ortega (Carol), Pastor Sam Ortega (Nina), and sister-in-law Lorrie Ortega (Jerry).

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