Former Doña Ana County Sheriff Juan Hernandez died early Monday morning, Sept. 9, after a long illness. He was 64.
Hernandez, who held the office of Sheriff from January 1999 to January 2005, retired after announcing he had been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia. At his retirement, then Undersheriff Frank Ruiz took over the office until the Doña Ana Board of County Commissioners appointed Sheriff Todd Garrison to replace Hernandez.
Having spent more than 30 years in local law enforcement with both the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the Las Cruces Police Department, Hernandez was known as a dedicated public servant. In a 2005 tribute written by former Sen. Pete Domenici, Hernandez was also noted as a “grants-writing machine,” having successfully secured more than $4.8 million in federal grant money for the department, which was used on missions ranging from combating drug and alcohol abuse to fighting crime and terrorism within Doña Ana County.
Prior to his last day in office, the Doña Ana County Commission declared Dec. 31, 2004 as Juan Hernandez Day in honor and appreciation for his many years of public service to the community.
“Juan was a lifelong friend of mine, and he will be missed by many,” Garrison said. “He exemplified what those of us in law enforcement work for, which is the public good. Those of us who had the pleasure of working with him knew him simply as that – a good man.”
At the request of his family, a private memorial service is planned.