Rio Rancho is an outstanding city full of tremendous people. These attributes have been on display time and time again over the last few weeks as we have come together and mourned the loss of one of our own, Police Officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner.

Whether it was attending the candlelight vigil, visiting the temporary memorial site on Pinetree Road, making a donation of some kind, attending different services, lining the streets for the funeral procession or showing support for the Benner family and Rio Rancho Police Department in countless other ways, I personally want to say thank you to citizens.

The City of Rio Rancho has been and continues to be one of the safest, if not the safest, community in the state of New Mexico. This can be directly traced to the men and women who choose to serve and protect the citizens of Rio Rancho. Day in and day out, the Rio Rancho Police Department handles very difficult situations with professionalism. The high standards and exemplary record our police department sustains are examples from which other departments around the country can learn from.

There is a direct correlation between how a community supports its law enforcement personnel and the type of law enforcement agency a community gets in return. Rio Rancho has established over the years a tradition of respecting and honoring its law enforcement. Because of this, it is not a coincidence that our police department is top-notch.

For any organization to operate at the highest levels, strong and effective leadership also must be present. Rio Rancho Police Chief Michael Geier’s management of myriad issues associated with this difficult time has illustrated and reinforced that he is a fine leader. Our community is blessed to have him.

Like so many of you, I have been outraged to learn of the circumstances that contributed to this heinous act being committed. Simply put, it should have never happened and the reason it did is because our judicial system failed. As initiatives are undertaken to examine and improve this system, I will be an active participant on behalf of the people of Rio Rancho.

In closing, to those who have made inquiries to me and other city officials about establishing a permanent memorial and donating to this effort, the police department will be coordinating efforts of this nature. Moving forward, more information will be publicized about future plans once available. In the meantime, those desiring to donate now can do so through the non-profit Rio Rancho Community Foundation.