SANTA FE (KRQE) -It appears the mysterious photo of a Santa Fe police chief has been identified and now the department is addressing why it was a mystery in the first place.
The photo was released by the Santa Fe Police Department last Friday and almost instantly, family members of the man in featured in the frame were able to identify him.
The mystery chief is Armando Larragoite Sr. Santa Fe Police believe he started serving as the top cop for the department in 1941.
As it turns out, Larragoite Sr. is well known in Santa Fe with an extensive family and even a school named after him. So how did SFPD not know who he was?
“He had a great civic pride,” said Patricio Larragoite, the grandson of Larragoite Sr.
Pat says the photo of his grandfather was no mystery, having grown up around Larragoite Sr. in Santa Fe and hearing stories about his history. Pat says his grandfather was the chief in the 40s during the Great Depression, however, that’s not everything he did.
“Serving in the city councils, serving as police chief, I think he even served as county commissioner at one point, served on the school board,” said Pat.
The former SFPD chief, Larragoite Sr., even had an elementary school named after him while he was still alive. Today, the school is still standing on Agua Fria Road and called “Academy at Larragoite.” The facility is now a high school level Spanish arts school.
With such deep roots in the community, Pat says he was confused as to how Santa Fe Police forgot about his grandfather.
“I just felt it’s kinda strange how they wouldn’t know that they had this photograph and didn’t know who it was,” said Pat.
So, what happened? Santa Fe police says some of the department’s history got jumbled around during a move in the 1980s. While plenty of history is cataloged, the department says it found the photo of Chief Larragoite mounted on a piece of card stock, without a name in their evidence room. Spokeswoman Celina Westervelt says SFPD wanted to preserve the photo as well.
“I think that his name probably is on the back of it but if we took it off we might ruin the picture,” said Westervelt.
The department says they likely have a record of Chief Larragoite in boxes of microfiche, however, they wanted more than just the basics, which is why they appealed to the community.
“You get the full story instead of just the name, the face, the title. You get the full story of who he was in that era and how he built and shaped the department,” said Westervelt.
However, Pat says he has no hard feelings about the ordeal. He says he’s just glad that his grandfather is being recognized for his work with SFPD.
“I’m glad they reached out to the community to say, ‘hey, we’re trying to put this puzzle together, who can help us?’ ” said Pat. “You know looking 70, 80 years, you know the present population, even current families don’t remember any of that, it’s history passed and it’s good to look in your past and bring that history back.”
Now, Larragoite isn’t the only face SFPD is trying to identify. The department has uncovered another black and white photo of another officer that they believe was a chief of the department in the 30s, before Larragoite. However, once again, there’s no name on the photo.
Santa Fe police say they found this latest photo of the unidentified chief alongside Larragoite’s as staff searched through boxes of archives in their evidence room.
Police say they’re planning on framing the Larragoite photo, giving copies to the family and adding it to their collection of chief images on display throughout the department.