Right now, throughout the United States, police officers are under fire from politicians and being scrutinized by the general public.Here in Taos, people gathered in nonviolent …
Right now, throughout the United States, police officers are under fire from politicians and being scrutinized by the general public.
Here in Taos, people gathered in nonviolent protest and commingled with local police and sheriffs who stand vigilant to ensure protests in Taos remain peaceful. Just as the Taos community is cut a little different than the rest of the country, so too are its law enforcement officers. These officers - such as Sgt. Eugene Holgate - go above and beyond, time and time again, for their community.
Now Holgate is closing the page on that chapter of his life after 34 years working with local law enforcement.
Over the decades, Holgate has worked with the Taos and Picuris Pueblo Tribal Police, but the majority of his service has been through the Taos County Sheriff's Department.
"Growing up I suppose he somewhat knew that he wanted to go into a public service position with a uniform," said Yvonne Holgate, Eugene's sister.
People who have never lived a life behind the shield can only imagine what its like to put on a uniform every day, kiss families goodbye and go out and protect a community that isn't always supportive of the service - knowing one may never return.
"He has had his share of tough cases I'm sure, but I can honestly say, he has never brought his work troubles home with him," Yvonne Holgate said of her brother. "He knew he had to leave all work-related drama, stress, at the door and enter his home to be a good partner and father to his family."
When Taos News asked Holgate what he thought were some pitfalls to being a new officer of the law, he said, " I can't see any pitfalls with the career I've chosen. I did what no one loved to do. My family saw those pitfalls when I chose to help others on birthdays, anniversaries, weekends, holidays, graduations and nights when they needed me the most. I want to apologize to my children for not being there when it mattered the most."
After decades of serving Taos County, from Costilla to Chamisal, Red River to Tres Piedras, Holgate, will soon retire from the Taos County Sheriff's Office.
With news of Holgate's coming final signoff, many folks around the valley wanted to share their experiences with the longtime deputy.
Former Taos County Sheriff Miguel Romero had this to say about Holgate's retirement: "A few words for my friend, my brother. Congratulations! It was a journey - seems like yesterday it started. Time goes by fast when you have fun and are surrounded by people that have your back. Remember the good time you had but at the same time learn from the bad, ugly situations. Hermanos! Congratulations, Geno!"
Holgate said, "I am going to miss the camaraderie of the second family I've come to trust with my life. This brother and sisterhood is unique. We share the laughter and the pain of this this job every day, more so of the pain. I'm going to miss what Taos County has to offer - from the greenest mountain pastures and forests to the arid sagebrush-covered lands to the raging water-filled canyons. This land, we are lucky to love here. That is what I'm going to miss."
Anyone who has ever fallen under the hard gaze or the reassuring smile of Holgate knows the kind of officer he prides himself in being. Officers of the law more often than not have to become part of people lives during the worse times of their lives. Holgate does so with a compassion that has been admired throughout not only his own agency, but with others in the valley.
Taos Pueblo Tribal Police Officer Nick Lamendola told Taos News, "His methods were always good. He always has a optimistic outlook. He always wants to resolve everything the best way possible, without putting people in more trouble than they were already in or deserve. So he is always looking for a better option, and he instills that in people when he's working. Rather than just take someone to jail and let the judge figure it out, Geno would sit with people and talk with the people, and he made a lot friends that way."
Lamendola first met Holgate in 2008 when he joined the TCSO and offered these words to share with his former sergeant: "He's good cop. He's been doing it for years and years, and I know he doesn't want to be done but law enforcement is changing so much now and it's a little rougher on cops and so all I can tell Geno is - go out and enjoy your time."
Holgate's dedication to his community doesn't end when he takes off the uniform. He has been a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens #78 for six years and, for the last three, has been its vice president. He was president of the Fraternal Order of Police High Country Lodge for six years. He volunteers with the Balloon Rally picnic. He volunteers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, assisting the altar society in cleaning and decorating for the holidays.
And then, there's his love for baseball. For 15 years, Holgate has volunteered as a Taos Little League coach and board member. For the past two years he has been serving as the Taos Little League president and he can often be found manning the grill at the concession stand.
"His guidance as president of the Little League board is fueled by his passion for the game, his love of working with the youth and his daily drive to serve our community," said Little League board member Valerie Ely.
What's next for Holgate? "There are options after retirement. I think my honey has me planned out already, lol," he joked. He said he plans to pursue his options and take in some fishing, and, of course, now he'll have plenty of time for that honey-do list.
"The world is my oyster," said Holgate.
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