Dec. 5—Deputy Chief Paul Joye is running the Santa Fe Police Department on an interim basis, but whether he will keep the job for the long run remains an open question.
Though Joye said he plans to apply to become the permanent chief as the city begins its search for a successor to the retired Andrew Padilla, he said he'll continue to work as he always has as the department goes through the transition.
"If I am not the one who gets a permanent position, I will do everything I can to make sure that whoever gets that position has a smooth transition and has everything they need to keep things moving forward," he said. "I will happily fall back into whatever role that that person would need me to do."
Joye, 42, joined the department in 2006 as a police cadet but has served over the years in various roles, including patrol sergeant, lieutenant and captain. He was promoted to deputy chief in September 2019 and oversees the department's day-to-day operations. Deputy Chief Ben Valdez manages administrative measures.
"Deputy Chief Joye has overseen operations, is very familiar with them and with day-to-day workings of the department in a way that meant there would be a lot of continuity by appointing him to the interim role," said Kyra Ochoa, director of the city's Department of Community Health and Safety, which oversees the police department.
Ochoa said there were a variety of people within the department who could have stepped into the interim chief role, but Joye's knowledge and understanding of the department's daily functions made him the best choice.
Joye said he knows the support he has from members of the department will help in his interim role.
"I'm very much taking a team mentality here," he said. "I have a lot of trust in the people around me to help me out and help all of us succeed."
Ochoa added it is a big responsibility but said she is confident Joye and the department will rise to the challenge.
"I know he'll draw on the strengths of that team to support him," she said.
Ochoa did not lay out a timeline for the search for a chief nor the process. City officials said they would not talk about a search out of respect for Padilla while he remained the chief. His last day was Friday. But Ochoa said finding a chief in a reasonable time frame is important.
"Citywide, we have a concern about capacity that we're asking people to do double duty on a lot of things," she added. "We have an incredible group of people that are able and capable and willing to work really, really hard. ... Finding any chief in a timely manner will be a big part of what we need to do to support that team, and we intend to do that."
Joye, a Michigan native, moved with his family to Carlsbad in 1994. He served as a volunteer firefighter, an EMT and a lifeguard there before attending Eastern New Mexico University, where he received a degree in criminal justice in 2002. After a brief stint in Utah working at a law firm, he returned to New Mexico in hopes of finding a job in which he could serve the community.
"I got here [Santa Fe] in the end of June and then went to City Hall to inquire about testing and got an application," he said.
His career has been filled with intense and unique moments, including encountering a mountain lion that had broken through a glass door in a jewelry store in 2007. In 2011, Joye and another officer received a Medal of Valor after they rescued an ambulance driver stuck in her vehicle after it had been hit by a drunken driver, according to a report in The New Mexican.
Joye will receive a 10 percent pay increase during his time as interim chief, he said. He currently earns $52.52 per hour, or $109,242 annually, according to city records.
Outside of work, Joye can often be found in the gym, he said. In 2015, he competed on the popular television show American Ninja Warrior, a sports entertainment competition that features people battling difficult obstacle courses.
The challenges are different now. But Joye said he's happy to see them through.
"When I started here in 2006, this was never something I saw myself as taking on," he said. "I was just trying to do a good job at my job, and that's been the story of my career — this department has been great to me."