First Responders

Helping our Hometown Heroes

Los Ojos de la Familia’s Mission:
“to make a difference in the New Mexico community, by providing educational development and quality of life assistance.”

Our newest initiative falls right in line with our mission, as well as adding another element of community support: giving back to those who protect and serve our community, those on the front line who make a difference in our community by protecting us, helping us, saving our lives, sometimes at the cost of their own.

When tragedy strikes our local heroes – whether police, firefighters or EMTs – the families and loved ones they leave behind often struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives, emotionally and mentally as well as financially.

This program’s goal is to be a strong arm of support, in times of trouble or tragedy, for those who support us every day with their service, who work throughout our community to make New Mexico a better and safer place to live.
This initiative is led by two of our LODLF volunteers who are first responders themselves as well as pillars of our community:

  • Bernalillo County’s Undersheriff Greg Rees
  • Forest Service Regional Patrol Commander Aban Lucero

Their combined expertise is invaluable to understanding the needs and situations of our local heroes, and how best we can support them.

Please take a moment to read about these first-responder families that we extended a helping hand:

Sergeant Ricky Speakman and his loving wife Tonia relocated from Alabama to the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico 18 years ago.Their love for each another was on clear display for anyone to see and epitomized core values in which the Pueblo of Laguna takes pride. Sergeant Speakman is a highly respected Police Officer, fully dedicated to the department and the Pueblo of Laguna itself. His dedication includes many calls for service which have made a positive impact on thousands of lives including those who serve alongside with him. He is recognized throughout the community as a friendly face in unpleasant times and regularly brings comfort to those who need it most.
Just a few months ago, Sergeant Speakman lost Tonia, his wife of 30 years, due to unforeseen circumstances. The loss of his wife has left him with large medical bills, a heavy financial burden adding to the weight of his grief. He is a grandfather who is currently raising his grandchildren alone, and insurance has only covered a portion of the costs involved with the passing of his wife. His brothers and sisters in blue were the first to stand at his side, but they also asked for help from our community, to help Sergeant Speakman get through this difficult time and move forward to better days.
We wrote a check to help pay down those medical bills and lift up this valuable member of our community.

Deputy Garland Leatherman – Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department
In January of 2021, our First Responders committee recognized a need in our public service community: the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Garland Leatherman was recently diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes partial paralysis and requires hospitalized treatment. He is a husband and a father of two children, both under 4-years-old. He has been unable to work for about a month, and it is unlikely that he will be able to return for a few months. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation in an in-patient facility, and he is giving his all to get back on his feet. We wrote a check to help cover medical expenses and the costs of everyday living, while he is unable to work. Get well soon, Deputy Leatherman, our prayers and good thoughts are with you.

Officer Pete Tanzilli – Laguna Police Department
Officer Tanzilli was shot in the line of duty less than a month ago, at the Route 66 Casino Hotel. He is still undergoing medical treatment and will have to have physical therapy for the next six months. We wrote a check to help cover some medical expenses while he is getting back on his feet. Thank you for your service, Officer Tanzilli, and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Keith Ragsdale – Rio Rancho Fire Department
Keith Ragsdale is a 24-year-old firefighter, who was recently diagnosed with mediastinal B cell Lymphoma. He is now undergoing chemotherapy, and received more bad news when he found out that his sister has the same condition. We wrote a check to help cover some of the costs of chemotherapy. Our best thoughts go out to this family, and our hopes for a successful battle against this illness.

Daniel Webster – Albuquerque Police Department
Officer Webster was a member of the Albuquerque Police Department and an Army veteran, who was shot during a traffic stop last month, but after six days of fighting, died from his injuries. He is survived by his wife, Michelle Carlino-Webster, who is a deputy in the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. When we came to Michelle with the check to help the family, she was in tears. She had recently notified the Army of her husband’s death, and was informed that his benefits would now cease, as he had not signed up for survivor’s benefits when he retired from the Army, before he had even met her. However, we were able to give her the information she needed to obtain State and Federal survivor benefits, as well as enough to help with her stay on top of things while she waits to receive those benefits.

Jacob Grant – Albuquerque Police Department
Officer Grant is a detective in the Albuquerque police department. While operating undercover for a sting operation, something went horribly wrong and he was shot nine times by a fellow officer. His wife is currently working full time to support him and their two children, 4- and 7-years-old, but she may need to quit in order to care for him full time, as he has another major surgery scheduled for January 2016. He is only receiving 70% of his base pay while he is on leave and receiving Workman’s Compensation. We were able to write a check to the family, to help carry them through the next few months.