Police officer ranks top of her class

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By Carol A. Clark

With her family joining forces, Los Alamos Police Ofc. Paige Early not only graduated last week from the Farmington Law Enforcement Academy, she graduated with distinction.

With her family joining forces, Los Alamos Police Ofc. Paige Early not only graduated last week from the Farmington Law Enforcement Academy, she graduated with distinction.


Early spent weekends at home and to allow her to concentrate on her studies during the week, husband Bob Early, mother Shari Mills and mother-in-law Mary Early pitched in to care for her three daughters.

The Early's are the parents of Maddy, 9; Beth, 6; and Sarah, 5. Not worrying about the children allowed Early to concentrate on her studies at the academy. Early was chosen class valedictorian and ranked top driver.

"I'm not sure why but I didn't have to work at it - it just came naturally," Early said of her ability to maneuver a squad car. "It was really a challenge for some of the others but it was easy for me and a real blast. I'm thinking as a long term goal to become a driving instructor."

Early traveled three-and-a-half hours to Farmington Sunday nights and returned to Los Alamos on Friday evenings throughout the 25-week academy.

"My biggest challenge was being away from my daughters each week," she said. "It was difficult - there's no question about it."

Her Husband took care of their middle daughter while he finished an Air Force tour in Indianapolis before joining Early in Los Alamos in September.

Early's oldest daughter was in school and her mother-in-law cared for the couple's youngest daughter during the day. Early's mom is a detective and has worked at the LAPD for six years. She picked up the girls after work and cared for them each night.

Her daughters are so used to seeing their grandmother in police uniform that they've taken Early's police career in stride. "They seem to think this is just something adults do," Early said.

Mills expressed delight that her daughter has chosen law enforcement as a career. "I'm just very proud of Paige," Mills said. "She's an exceptional person and I didn't doubt for a minute that she would excel at the academy."

Early's grandmother, Grace Wolff, resides in Trinidad, Colo., and like the rest of the family, attended the Dec. 19 graduation ceremony for her granddaughter. "I never even considered the possibility of my daughter and granddaughter becoming police officers," Wolff said. "They're both tough but compassionate and those are characteristics that make very fine officers. I'm so proud of both of them."

She describes her granddaughter as being very determined from a young age. "She always knew what she wanted and would do what was necessary to achieve her goals," Wolff said. "Just as she's done at the police academy."

Early's husband also was excited to see his wife graduate. "He knew I was going to finally do what I had wanted to do for a long time," she said.

Early's graduating class was comprised of 13 officers from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan Sheriff's Office, the Aztec Police and the Los Alamos Police Department.

A Farmington police captain commented to Early during the ceremony, "Congratulations Ms. Early, you did a fabulous job and you made my department look bad." The Farmington Police Department usually receives top honors, she said.

"It's always an honor for us when one of our officers goes to another community and represents us so well," Los Alamos Police Capt. Randy Foster said. "Before Paige, Sgt. Andrew Goldie went through the Farmington Academy and was also valedictorian of his graduating class. While we in Los Alamos know - it's nice when other communities become aware of the quality of our police officers."

The best part of the academy, Early said, was going through it as a team. She expressed particular appreciation for Los Alamos Police Officer Monica Salazar who also attended the academy. "I don't know how I could have gotten through the academy without her," Early said. "We were roommates and really helped pull each other through."

Early graduated Dec. 19 and reported for work in the patrol division Dec. 22. "I love it - I've been waiting a longtime for this and it's just great to get out in the community on patrol," she said.

Early is three-quarters of the way to completing her bachelors degree in sociology and criminology from the University of Colorado at Pueblo.

She's been whittling away at it for about six years, put it on hold while attending the academy and plans to complete her remaining classes soon. It's pretty clear she'll earn her degree because as her grandmother says, she is very determined and does what is necessary to complete her goals.