While many students are lucky to call the University of New Mexico home for four years, many faculty and staff double that number. A special group of Lobos, like UNM Police Department (UNMPD) members Patricia Young and James Madrid, get that privilege for decades.
UNMPD Commander Madrid and Officer Young are each retiring from UNMPD after 32 and 27 years in law enforcement, respectively.
This pair of hard-working individuals, while both experiencing their own unique journeys on the job, share the same culmination now: that saying goodbye won’t be so easy.
"Both Commander James Madrid and Detective Tish Young will have left a lasting legacy here at UNM. Both Commander Madrid and Detective Young have left big shoes to fill, and both inspire others to be the best that they can be." – UNMPD Chief Silva
Beginning of the badge
Commander James Madrid began his career in law enforcement after graduating from the Army's basic and advanced training. His desire to help others led him to the Gallup Police Department, where he eventually became a member of the UNM-Gallup Police Department.
“I can go on forever and ever and ever. It's never a dull moment. I wouldn't change it for the world because I already knew that I wanted to help people; that's what I always wanted to do in my career. If you're coming here for the money, you ain't going to make a lot of money here. You do it because you want to make a difference,” Madrid said.
He became a more well-rounded officer through a wide array of responsibilities and involvements–from a school resource officer and D.A.R.E. officer to a SWAT team member and field training officer who also occasionally went undercover.
“There's good times and there's bad times. For me, it's knowing that I helped save some lives. That's the whole point of why we become police officers. Even when it's a tough call, you know that you're the only one that's going to go to that call. You're the only one there that's going to help that person. Nobody else is going to come,” he said.
After earning dual bachelor’s degrees through UNM in psychology and sociology, and being promoted to lieutenant, Madrid transferred to main campus.
I was asked three times to transfer to UNM main campus but my wife did not want to move. I turned it down twice, and then the third time I said I'll do it, and came up here in 2006,” he said. “UNM does take care of you in many aspects. That's what I really loved about UNM, they took care of you the best they could.”
Officer Patricia Young came to New Mexico in 1996 and took on a role at UNMPD as soon as she could. The hand fit the glove perfectly, and Young never looked back.
“I'm sad to be leaving at this time because the university has let me be involved in all these things that have made a difference and hopefully will continue to make a difference. That's kind of where I'm at right now,” Young said.
After her time as a resident advisor in her dorms, she knew a university setting was where she could thrive. Young became an early proponent of community policing, and hearing from the voices in an area that were not just her own.
“I graduated from a university in New York, and I was very involved with the campus and a lot of things at the school. I really enjoyed my time at the university, so when I saw that they were looking for campus police at the University of New Mexico, I thought that would be a really interesting way to serve on campus,” she said.
UNMPD through the years
Young can not say enough about the environment fostered within UNMPD and UNM as a whole. She came to New Mexico with three kids, long nights at the academy, and two more kids after that.
“It was a rough start because I went to the academy in Santa Fe and we had to stay there overnight, so I had to get help with my kids. I had a lot of family support, and I graduated from the academy, and I've been here ever since,” Young said. “UNM is very supportive of families, and to be able to have two kids while doing this job is saying a lot. I was supported enough that I could do that and continue with my career.”
Balancing a career in law enforcement with family was not without its challenges, but Young made it work with the help of UNM.
“After I had two more children while I was working at UNM, that was a big challenge, but the university was very supportive at the time. We were having lactation stations popping up all around campus to make it easier for women,” she said.
Madrid similarly felt incredibly welcomed as he transitioned from a lieutenant in a department serving a few thousand versus a team protecting tens of thousands.
“UNM-Gallup was a small department, so I started running that department. Being a lieutenant was kind of like being a chief. Then I got asked to come over here to UNM main campus as a lieutenant,” he said.
Both Young and Madrid believe that UNMPD in the ‘90s was on the cusp of prominent community policing. Still, the campus is not in a vacuum; being here for so long, these two have seen plenty of changes.
“We did more community policing. We were in the dorms a lot, but over the years, we've really had a lot of challenges with the growing population of homeless, with car thefts and other safety challenges. Our officers have been just more and more inundated with the crime aspects of the campus community,” Young said.
Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Chief Harold Medina agrees–there’s so much that UNM absorbs from the greater Albuquerque community.
“We're an open campus. We're not closed, so everything that happens in the city carries over onto campus. When you see trends happening in the city, it does spill over into the campus community,” Madrid said. “When Albuquerque became number one in the nation for vehicle thefts, guess who became number one and vehicle thefts for the universities? We did.”
The good parts of that, too, Madrid emphasizes, come from the community also.
“If you see something, say something because that helps a lot. We're very approachable; just because we have that badge doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to us,” he said. “We've all had some family here at the university, so we have your best interests at heart. We want this place to be safe and we need your help for it to be safe. We can't do it by ourselves. The more we know, the better we can do to keep it safe for everyone.”
Above and beyond
Madrid had already shown his proficiency and perfected his additional passion for teaching. While working up to the position of commander, he was also responsible for the safety planning at big UNM events, teaching at the police academy, and assisting APD officers with promotions. That was all while handling whatever crime threw at him.
“There have been some calls where I question why I'm doing this. One time, I got shot at like 45 times, and while I'm sitting behind the brick wall, I’m thinking about what I’m doing here. Then it pops into your head: ‘who else is going to help this community, except for me?,’” he said. “Then you have the calls where you think you have a choking baby, and you help the father realize the baby is having a seizure and help them get to the hospital. That's why I say it's never a dull moment.”
It’s clear Madrid did not simply call it a day when he clocked out. He took extra time to understand every nook of the campus, and every person that walked on it.
“I'm going to miss the walks that I take here when I keep an eye out. I enjoy the view here at the university. I'm going to miss all the people here. That's going to be hard because you make friends here over the years,” he said.
As time went on, he also became a mentor to UNMPD’s newest recruits.
“My favorite thing would be coming into work and having conversations with the fellow employees here including my own supervisors. There are such good people here and it's always good to work together. I'm also going to miss picking on Tish once in a while,” Madrid said.
Young worked exceptionally hard to successfully perform her roles as a staff member and an officer.
“We're a police department, but we're also staff on campus. I think the community needs to be aware of that,” she said. “We're here to serve our community, but we've got the same concerns as other staff on campus. I really enjoyed being involved in a lot of different parts of campus that weren't just the police department.”
This included her role in the Sexual Misconduct and Assault Response Team (SMART.) Young says there may be nothing more she will miss more, than assisting victims who may not have anyone else to talk to.
“I was helping people in a way that I hadn't been before. I was privileged to have people come to me with very personal crimes and share with me what they went through. The SMART was a very worthwhile group to be involved in,” Young said. “It was nice to see how the campus community came together to support victims of those kinds of crimes and how we did preventative programs for sexual assaults and got a lot of different departments on campus involved. I'll miss being part of that group.”
During her time at UNM, Young also was president of the UNM police officer association for a few years and helped establish the Campus Safety Council and Campus Watch, as well as other community policing programs.
“We worked on a lot of community outreach at that time. We need our community to be involved. We need them to spread awareness of what's happening on campus. Communication between police and the community is very important. They're seeing different things than we are. Then the more confidence that our community has in the police, the quicker that they'll pick up their phone and call us and let us know what's going on,” she said.
Hopes for the future
Community policing is something current UNMPD Chief Joseph Silva is focusing on now more than ever. As two people who know how critical that connection is between the community and its officers, Young and Madrid are almost remiss they won’t see it come to full fruition.
“I'm really sad that I'm leaving right when the Campus Watch program is starting to blossom, but I'm really confident that the program that will benefit the campus for years and years to come. We’re trying to expand the police department on campus so that we can do more in different ways–not just protecting the campus from crime, but doing community policing, training people to protect themselves, and using safety tools on campus. It's pretty challenging, but we're doing what we can and we're moving in the right direction,” Young said.
Retirement is a special thing, but neither Madrid nor Young are fully ready to throw in the towel. Part of their dedication to their community means continuing to provide beyond the length of what’s required.
“I think it's very important that we do our part for the schools and I was really intrigued that James was doing that. I think that is a very good way to keep involved in your community and to give back,” Young said.
Madrid has plans to substitute teach for Albuquerque Public Schools as well as to instruct driver’s education.
“I've always been into instructing courses, so I'm still working. You know what, working is like a drug. You've been doing it for so long. How do you stop cold turkey?’” he said.
When chastised for maybe not understanding the meaning of retiring, Madrid also shared he intends to take a celebratory trip to Disneyland with his family.
“I talked to my wife. We're going in April, and then we're going to New Orleans in October for my wife's 50th. So I got two trips I’m excited for. I'm a Disney guy and I love Disney,” he said.
You can run into Young likely on the road this summer with her two teens. Beyond the RV, she also is considering Madrid’s offer to join him in the substitute teaching world.
“I have two teenagers at home, so I'm going to really focus on them. We bought a camper. We're going to travel. I'm also taking some classes, since UNM is able to give us the educational benefit. I'm just thrilled about the things I'm going to be able to do now,” Young said.
While this article showcases only a small portion of the time and work these two UNMPD officers put in, Young and Madrid understand you can’t always see the seeds you sow.
“It’s gratifying because there are a lot of ups and downs in this profession and a lot of frustrating times, but when it comes down to it, there are times when you've made a difference,” Young said. “Sometimes you don't even know if you made a difference, but, you know, you must be making a difference. You can't really quantify it, but you try different things. You're always trying.”