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Police chief marks milestone

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Community leaders share their thoughts on the county’s top law enforcement officer

By Carol A. Clark

Wayne Torpy stood out among a large pool of applicants under consideration for Los Alamos police chief five years ago this month. Torpy came from Melbourne, Fla., where he served with the Melbourne Police Department for 25 years. He was deputy chief over a force of more than 265 law enforcement professionals in a city of 76,000 residents.

He received the job here and on this anniversary, community leaders took the opportunity to express their esteem for Torpy and his accomplishments.

Retired County

Administrator Max Baker

“Chief Torpy accepted every assignment that was given to him and consistently addressed them in a manner that always exceeded expectations. The assignments ranged from rebuilding the police department with 14 sworn officer vacancies at his arrival to improving relationships with the district attorney’s office and many larger and smaller things in between,” said Max Baker, county administrator at the time who worked with Torpy until he retired in December. “Well done in every instance and congratulations on reaching your five-year milestone with Los Alamos County. We all appreciate your dedication and hard work for our community.”

Current County Administrator Tony Mortillaro presented Torpy with a special pin and certificate during a recent ceremony.

Ken Freeman

General Manager Ken Freeman of SOC Los Alamos, the protective force for Los Alamos National

Laboratory, met Torpy on the chief’s first day in town.

“Wayne and I work together on the Los Alamos Public Safety Association of which he is a charter member and on LANL security. The chief is without a doubt one of the finest public servants I know,” Freeman said. “I’m very proud to work with him. I see him both as a colleague and a friend.”

Deputy Chief

Kevin Purtymun

Deputy Chief Kevin Purtymun has served in every rank within the LAPD since joining the department in 1988.

“In the last five years, Chief Torpy has provided some great leadership and vision for the development of the department. He’s worked hard at developing not only the officers but the supervisory capabilities in the department,” Purtymun said. “When the chief arrived, our supervisory team consisted of a captain, a lieutenant and a sergeant. We had vacancies at captain and lieutenant and four vacancies at sergeant. He made the development of officers to fill these positions as well as ongoing succession planning a priority.”

Purtymun credits Torpy with getting the Consolidated Dispatch Center up and running at LANL. Torpy also brought in the integrated fire department dispatch and as part of that effort added a computer-aided dispatch system and a records management system, he said.

“He’s also given us the guidance to take a focused look at crime and accident trends and how best to react to them,” Purtymun said.

Purtymun added that during Torpy’s five years on the job, he’s played a significant role in the development of the downtown skate park, updated jail and the police department renovation.

“One of the bigger things for me is that through all the building and program development, the chief never loses sight of the people aspect in whatever he’s doing. He never forgets that we’re dealing with people — whether it be the citizens, employees or inmates — he never loses sight of that.”

Fire Chief Doug Tucker

Police and fire departments don’t typically forge close relationships with each other but that is not the case locally. Los Alamos Fire Chief Doug Tucker described first meeting Torpy when he tested for the police chief position. It became very apparent that Torpy was interested in developing a strong relationship between the police and fire departments, Tucker said.

“From day one, Wayne wanted to ensure that the relationship was one which supports the needs of the community, LANL and NNSA and especially those in public safety. Wayne is a seasoned veteran who strives to make a difference in his department and the community,” Tucker said. “He was a classmate of mine in Leadership Los Alamos and has continued on to be a graduate of Leadership New Mexico. Wayne was instrumental in developing the Los Alamos Public Safety Association to bring together individuals from the area involved in law enforcement, fire and rescue and intelligence. He has a big heart and likes people, horses and dogs, but since he was a K-9 officer — dogs best.”

County Council Chair

Mike Wismer

County Council Chair Mike Wismer also met Torpy during the interview process.

“During the last five years, Wayne has been a neighbor, friend, colleague and community leader. He has provided vital leadership to the officers in his command, to the community and to the young people of Los Alamos,” Wismer said. “We are fortunate to have a police executive of his caliber.”

Council Vice Chair

Sharon Stover

Council Vice Chair Sharon Stover agreed saying, “Chief Torpy has quietly raised the bar and achieved results on the educational level of the police force. He is also a strong voice and advocate for youth and is one of our county department directors who is a visionary and who works to achieve positive results for the community,” Stover said. “He has a high, positive energy and I have enjoyed working with him on several efforts, including the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board (JJAB).”

UNMLA Executive

 Director Cedric Page

Torpy spends a lot of time collaborating on student issues.

“In my time as executive director at UNM-Los Alamos, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many fine and dedicated public servants. I have been particularly impressed with the concern for, and commitment to, improving the well-being of the youth in this community demonstrated by Chief Torpy through his involvement with JUNTOS,” UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page said. “He has also impressed me with his professionalism and concern for the educational advancement for his staff and officers. This concern was evident in his work with the UNM-LA administration and faculty to create a concentration in public safety for those pursuing an associate’s degree. Lastly, he is unique in his ability to engage people with his smile, a positive outlook, and a ‘can do’ attitude.”

LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt

LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt congratulated Torpy on his fifth anniversary saying he was impressed with Torpy from their first meeting.  

“He struck me as a person really interested in working for the good of our community. He was especially focused on how the county police department and the school district could partner to improve the lives of children,” Schmidt said. “Since then, I have come to learn that he stands by that belief. He genuinely appears to believe that through targeted interventions and education, students will gain a better appreciation for making good choices. What may surprise the community is just how much of this is done without the public knowing. What the community should know is that Chief Torpy appears tireless in his efforts. Through his involvement in JJAB and the school district’s at-risk youth summits, I have grown to appreciate his efforts even more. Our community is fortunate to have a leader with this commitment in our midst.”

Chief Wayne Torpy

In speaking of the many accomplishments attributed to him, Torpy said none would be possible, “without the absolutely fantastic bunch of people” he works with each day.

Torpy described as phenomenal the talent he found within the police department when he took over five years ago and expressed his gratitude to Max Baker and Tony Mortillaro, the county council and county staff for their continued support.