By Tova Fruchtman: QUAY COUNTY SUN
Nathan Wallace may have been surprised that about 100 people came to the San Jon Community Center to congratulate him on his retirement Sunday.
When his family suggested the idea of having a party, Wallace joked that the two people who would come may not be able to make it, his step-son Rodney Paris said during a slide show presentation he gave at the party.
However, they did come. They ate. They talked. They
watched the slide show.
They browsed through the scrapbook of Wallace1s achievements. And at the end they gave him a standing ovation.
And perhaps its fitting that so many people came, because although Wallace made it clear he loved the crime-fighting part of his job, he said it1s the people he will miss the most.
After 27 years serving the New Mexico State Police, Wallace said he just decided to retire.
“I just decided it was time to go one to other things,” he said.
Wallace said he plans on volunteering in the community and starting a business working on small engines, and going “wherever else” God leads him.
It was his childhood dream, not just to be a police officer, but to be a New Mexico State Police Officer.
“It1s just something that I always wanted to be,” said Wallace explaining a New Mexico State Police officer made an impact on his life as a child. Wallace took his job seriously. When he pulled someone over for a traffic violation, he always looked for signs of other criminal activity.
The slide show had picture after picture of Wallace sitting behind tables full of cash, or large bags of marijuana and cocaine.
” I was very active in criminal intervention when I made a traffic stop,” Wallace said. ” I felt that it was my job to do the best I could.”
Wallace was so good at making drug busts, that he was one of five New Mexico State Police officers to get a dog as a partner.
“Ilse” was her name, and Wallace said she was like more than a dog to him, she was like one of the kids.
“She was like part of the family,” he said.
Kenny Terry, a retired state police officer, trained Wallace during his first weeks as an officer.
He said Wallace1s love for the job always helped him do well.
“He was always a good cop,” he said. ” He loved to chase the dope.”
But Wallace said drugs weren1t his only concentration ‹ pointing out he also recovered stolen property and vehicles and caught runaway fugitives.
” The drugs were just one of the many aspects,” he said.
Many people who knew Wallace for years also remember a fateful night in April 1986, when a young man jumped from a truck, kicked Wallace in the face and shot him in the leg.
Wallace held the man down until back-up could arrive as the man bit his arm.
Luckily, Wallace was okay, but as his family spoke of the event, tears still filled their eyes.
He was awarded a purple heart by the department for his bravery.
John Vigil a Logan resident who worked with Wallace said he admires him for his dedication.
“He1s one of the most dedicated people I know,” he said.
“The ability for him to come back after his incident years ago ‹ being shot and stuff. It took a lot of courage.”
Wallace said it wasn1t hard to go back to the force, but it raised some concerns.
” I was worried about my family,” he said.
As Wallace retires, he won1t have to worry about that anymore. He hopes to spend his new-found free time with his family.
“I think it1s just time for me to go to something else. I1m being lead to go to something else,” he said. “This is going to give me, hopefully, more time, more freedom, to do things with my family and grand kids,” he said.