Eugene Holgate, a newcomer to the political ring, has spent the past 30 years in law enforcement, working for both Taos and Picuris Pueblos, and for the Taos County Sheriff's Office for the past 25 …
Eugene Holgate, a newcomer to the political ring, has spent the past 30 years in law enforcement, working for both Taos and Picuris Pueblos, and for the Taos County Sheriff's Office for the past 25 years.
In that time, he says he has seen several sheriffs come and go. Those that became his mentors, he said, taught him to be "personable and communicative" in his work.
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, but raised by his mother at Taos Pueblo from the time he was young, Holgate has spent time honing his ability to connect with diverse peoples across Taos County's many subcommunities.
After graduating from Taos High School in 1985, he opted to become a dispatcher and jailer at Taos Pueblo, instead of going to college, as his father, a government-employed dental technician, had pressed him to do.
Looking back, he believes it was the right move, as he quickly developed a love for helping people, especially the elderly on Taos Pueblo. He said his style of taking calls earned him a reputation as someone who was easy to talk to in times of crisis.
Holgate graduated from the U.S. Indian Police Academy and then worked for Picuris Pueblo in the early 1990s before leaving to work construction. Then Taos County Sheriff Glenn Weathers had heard of his reputation, he said. Weathers approached Holgate on a construction site and offered him a job.
Weathers became another role model for Holgate.
"He was a great man," Holgate said. "He was real affable. Real communicative. And that's why I enjoy law enforcement. I get to talk to people. There have been many times where I've been left with a group of people on a hot call and that's what's saved my hide."
During his nearly 30 years at the sheriff's office, Holgate has held numerous positions, including as an advisor in preparing criminal complaints before they're sent off for filing at the Taos County court system.
After recovering from a shoulder surgery, he recently went back out on patrol. Since that time, he's noticed that morale among his fellow deputies isn't as strong as it used to be.
"I see the problems and I hear the problems," he said. "We need personnel to fill space that's been vacated because the guys are overworked. I see the tired eyes out there."
Holgate echoed what some of his competition has also stated: that staffing needs to be increased and ties with other agencies need to be improved to better address critical issues, such as homelessness, drug abuse and domestic violence.
"People want a sheriff who's going to be personable, acquaintable with all the agencies around - state police, tribal police, town police, Questa Police," he said.
In terms of addiction issues, specifically, Holgate said he'd much rather deal with a marijuana user than someone who's been drinking. But regardless of his preference, Holgate said he tries to emphasize respect in all cases.
"I want to bring back the philosophy where we treat everyone like a human being," he said. "Whether they're drunk or laying in their own piss, or jacked up on heroin, whatever. They're still people that need to be treated humanely - not always pushed around in handcuffs."
- John Miller
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