“Although I’m stepping aside, there is still a great organization that is going to continue to serve not just my family, but all of Rio Rancho,” Vigil said.
Growing up, Vigil was surrounded by people who influenced him to join the police force. His father was a reserve deputy for Valencia County and his uncle worked as an undersheriff for Cibola County.
Vigil got involved in law enforcement through college at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, where he worked for the campus police department as a student. Tom Zimmerman, the campus police chief at the time, inspired Vigil to be an accomplished police officer.
“The chief who hired me at the time ended up retiring,” he said. “I talked to him before he left and I said, ‘Hey, I’m young; I’d like to go to a bigger department.’ He gave me his blessing for me to develop my career.
“…Those are the individuals throughout life that you look back and realize what influence they had on your development and success ultimately.”
When Vigil was first hired to work in Rio Rancho in 1999, only one department took care of police and fire services. He said he was hired as police officer, trained as a firefighter and received his emergency medical technician-basic certification.
“At the time, we used to do all three,” Vigil said. “We had a lot of hats that we wore and served in the community.”
Although he worked as a firefighter in the beginning of his career, Vigil said he preferred law enforcement. He spent several years working on the SWAT team, later being promoted to detective, then sergeant.
Vigil spent six years on weekend nights working as a sergeant, because he really enjoyed doing it.
“It’s probably the best position out of my career,” he said. “You’re interacting with the officers and the people, and you see the difference that you make. I think that’s ultimately why you get into law enforcement — because you think you can make a difference. Some days you feel like you did, and maybe some days you don’t, but you keep doing it.”
Continuing with his law enforcement career, Vigil was later promoted to lieutenant over the traffic unit.
In 2016, Vigil was promoted to support services captain, where he supervised department training and recruitment, front desk and court security officers and worked as a public information officer. For the past nine months, Vigil was put over patrol as a captain, where he organized the men and women who go out into the community to serve Rio Rancho.
Joining the New Mexico Army National Guard, being deployed to Iraq from January 2004 to May 2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and serving the men and women of New Mexico helped Vigil develop his leadership skills and allowed him to work in Rio Rancho for two decades, he said.
“I think you develop the desire to see those who are with you, and serve together with you, improve,” Vigil said. “I think that’s part of that leadership — to take care of the people next to you. If they’re doing well, then you’ll do well.”
Following his retirement, Vigil said he plans to continue working in law enforcement, but will have to do so in another state. Although he wishes to stay in New Mexico, he wants to collect his retirement earnings and a regular paycheck to support his family.
“I realize that being in my 40s, I still have a lot to offer, so I will continue my law enforcement career,” he said. “I have applied to other states. Unfortunately, the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association is set up to where a lot of opportunities within the state are not available. If you retire, you cannot work for another municipality, or county, or state entity without putting that retirement on hold.”
Under former Gov. Susana Martinez, a law was passed that prohibits New Mexicans who retired from the public sector from collecting pensions while also working for another governmental entity in the state.
“Money isn’t everything, but it helps when you have children to put through college and a quality of life you want to maintain,” Vigil said. “So, I’ll probably continue in law enforcement; I’ll just be looking at other states, where my training and experience can be used to serve another community, hopefully that appreciates law enforcement the way Rio Rancho does.”