The prestigious Santa Cruz County (SCC) Sheriff’s Department has added three new deputies to its patrol division. The three new deputies went through rigorous training over a 17-week program that tested the limits of these individuals mental and physical competency. The new deputies are all locals that aspire to a long and successful career in law enforcement. Joining one of the most respectable law enforcement office in the country are Andres Palafox, Rafael Lopez and Chris Velasco.
To become deputy candidates, one has to undergo a series of obstacles. An extensive background investigation on each candidate is performed to check any recent or past occurrences that might impede their validity as peace officers. Each officer is responsible for completing the following hiring phases: a written exam, a physical fitness exam, an oral board interview, a polygraph examination, a background investigation, a psychological assessment and a medical examination. After successfully finishing the phases, candidates are given a date to begin their 17-week intensive training program.
When candidates begin their edification, they are given the building blocks for upholding the law. “We are introduced to Title 13, Title 28 and we are educated on past, current and future practices related to the profession,” said Palafox about his experience.
The program consists of different sections that are divided into tasks that are required of the candidates to complete by the end of each week. At the end of each week, the candidates are then required to complete a test, which they must pass with score of 70% or better. “Each week you might be tested on something different such as traffic laws, domestic violence, homicide, burglaries and we must pass every single test in order to remain in the academy,” said Palafox. At the end of the 17-week Academy, the candidates are then given a comprehensive certification test, which covers all the material that the deputies received during their training.
After graduation from the academy, the new deputies come back to SCC and are assigned a squad vehicle and a mentoring officer. At this point, they are evaluated on a daily basis and have the opportunity to be out in the field for a period of 12-weeks experiencing real life situations with experienced deputies before they are ready to patrol Santa Cruz County.
“The county is divided into four districts made up of Nogales, Rio Rico, Tubac, Amado, Tumacacori, Carmen, Patagonia, Sonoita and Elgin. Deputies rotate areas on a daily basis which is determined by our supervisors,” said Palafox.
These new deputies will be out patrolling Santa Cruz County on the mission to serve and protect. If you see them, thank them for the commitment they have taken.
Deputy Andres Palafox
Palafox, 33, is a 1997 graduate of Nogales High School (NHS). Palafox is also a graduate of Arizona State University where he earned a degree in Justice Studies. “I was looking to begin law school but fate brought me back to Nogales when I saw the possibility of working for the Sheriff’s department,” said Palafox. He joined the Sheriff’s Office in April 2009 and as a detention officer the Arizona Detention Association named Palafox “Rookie Of The Year”.
“In 2011, the position of Deputy for the traffic division became available, I know it sounds like a cliché but this is something I always wanted to do (work as a peace officer),” said Palafox. “Becoming a deputy is remarkable and my supervisor Sgt. Chris Velasco has given me a wealth of knowledge to build on,” said Palafox.
Deputy Rafael Lopez
Lopez, 40, was raised in Nogales and a 1989 graduate of Nogales High School. Before heading into law enforcement, Lopez was the Loss Prevent Manager at the local JC Penney. “While conducting apprehensions, I became interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, when a position became available at the Sheriff’s Office I applied and was accepted,” said Lopez. Lopez has been with the SCC Sheriff’s Department since October 2009 and began his career at the Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer.
“At the academy we learned all the basics, being out in the field gives you the opportunity build on and practice procedures in real life scenarios,” said Lopez.
Deputy Abraham Pacheco
Pacheco, 24, is also a local of Nogales and a 2005 graduate of Rio Rico High School. At the age of 24, Deputy Pacheco is the youngest of the new officers aspiring for a long and successful career. Pacheco started his career with the Sheriff’s office four years ago as a detention officer.
“I always wanted to be an officer, since I was a kid, and it has been astonishing to finally be living out my dream,” said Pacheco.
“The academy was a really fun experience for me, I learned a lot of about law enforcement in a short period of time,” said Pacheco. “Being out in the field I’ve learnt to be very careful and keep my eyes wide open at all times due to the dangers associated with my new responsibilities,” said Pacheco.
For more information please visit 2170 N. Congress Dr., Nogales AZ, or call (520) 761-7869.