Friday, December 10, 2010
Dona Ana County Bids Farewell to Franco
LAS CRUCES — Dozens of Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office employees and their families have bid farewell to retiring Undersheriff Chuck Franco, who will soon begin a new career as New Mexico's first gentleman.
Franco's wife, Gov.-elect Susana Martinez, will be inaugurated Jan. 1 during an outdoor ceremony on the Santa Fe Plaza.
Franco spent nearly six years as undersheriff in a law enforcement career that spanned 32 years at the Sheriff's Office, the Las Cruces Police Department and the New Mexico State University Police Department.
Franco was visibly emotional during his send-off party on Thursday as he thanked the officers who trained him and those he had watched advance through the ranks. He told them the department had come a long way, and he wouldn't forget the struggles to fund law enforcement once in Santa Fe.
Franco said he plans to devote his time as "first dude" — as some jokingly refer to him now — to reaching out to the state's at-risk children and helping where he can with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Both will be unpaid, volunteer pursuits.
"It's going to be a new challenge," he said referring to making things better in New Mexico. "... It's not who you know anymore and it's not who you pay. It's going to be on a fair basis."
Martinez asked those at Thursday's event to maintain their good relationship with the District Attorney's Office. She also promised to appoint a successor who would share her values: "Tough on prosecution, tough on crime."
Martinez and Franco will begin their journey to Santa Fe with an invitation-only "Inaugural Send-Off Gala" Dec. 30 in Las Cruces.
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