Patrick Scherden reflects on 63 years of living in Douglas

Longtime Douglas resident Patrick Scherden, shown above with Hector Quijada and Robert Marrufo, visit with the late Jim Dickson after the Industrial Development Authority assisted in the acquisition of a backup generator for the Copper Queen Emergency Department on Fifth Street in 2017.

DOUGLAS — Longtime Douglas resident Patrick Scherden is a retired Douglas police officer, current member of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police and is president of the Douglas Industrial Development Authority, which recently purchased a giant movie screen and sound system the community will be able to enjoy as part of the movie in the park event.

Herald/Review: Please tell us about yourself.

Patrick Scherden: I am from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and after my dad was moved to El Paso, Texas, in 1954 from Altoona through the railroad I attended school in El Paso, first and second grades. Then he was transferred to Douglas through the Southern Pacific Railroad as they needed a person who could work on steam locomotives and diesel locomotives as both came through Douglas from the east and west and from Mexico. Douglas was a busy city in those days as it saw several passenger trains come through Douglas daily as well as the trains from the Phelps Dodge Smelter and the copper works in El Paso, Texas.

I attended Loretto Catholic School and then to Douglas High School and graduated in 1969. Graduated from Cochise College in 1971 with an AA in criminal justice. Worked for Cochise College as a security officer from March 1971 to November 1973. While I was employed by Cochise College I attended and graduated from the AZDPS Training Academy to be a Certified Law Enforcement Officer and graduated in the top 3% of the academy class. On Dec. 1, 1973, I was hired by the Douglas Police Department and was one of two officers in the department at that time to be certified, which is required by Arizona state law. I have been in Douglas 63 years.

H/R: How many years did you work for Douglas Police Department? What was that experience like?

PS: I had a great and successful career in law enforcement serving the citizens of Douglas for 26 years from December 1973 to February 2000. Many challenges from dealing with people, the administration. From good times and hard times, especially during the strikes with Phelps Dodge. It was not a sleepy city as many people thought it was or is, it has very good people and it had /has its bad people. I retired as the Administrative Sergeant to the Chief of Police. Investigated a major accident in 1978 involving an open intersection and two vehicles in which a small child was killed. Proved to the Ford Motor Company Engineers and their attorneys that the rear door latch of a Pinto Station Wagon could not withstand the impact of side force causing the door to fly open. The Ford Motor Company paid to the family of the deceased child an undisclosed amount of money and settled out of court. Ford changed the design of the rear door latch assembly.

Held many positions from 1975 to 2000 to include: Attended the AZDPS Motorcycle Academy and graduated to ride motorcycles. Had over 2,500 hours of specialized training to include: Fingerprinting detection, fingerprint classification and comparison by the FBI. Crime Scene and Photographing Technology. Domestic Violence courses — what to look for both physical and mental on the victim. Tracking the financial sources of the criminal enterprises. This is just a few of the many courses and schools I attended. (From) 1990 to 1991 (I) was assigned to be the liaison between the architect, the construction company and the police department for renovating the Southern Pacific / Southwestern railroad depot as the new police department headquarters. During this time, I completed many of the bids for the equipment that went into the building. From 1991, after moving into the new police department until my retirement, I was in charge to make sure all the maintenance to the building was completed on time and all the equipment in the building was maintained, also the grounds around the building. The new Police Headquarters was now worth $10 million. I designed the current crime scene and mobile command center vehicle at a cost of $100,000. Completed the bidding process for the fleet of police vehicles both marked and unmarked and the motorcycles and had the responsibility of making sure all were maintained. The cost of the fleet was over $800,000.

Was called by the FBI to investigate a shooting by a Border Patrol Agent and an undocumented male subject along the U.S. Mexican Border, until the day the U.S. attorney in Tucson retired and my crime scene (drawing) was hung in his office after the case was resolved. My many years and the positions I held in the police department and especially the last four years of my career as the Administrative Sergeant to the Chief of Police, I assisted in writing the yearly police department budget. After it was approved, I maintain the budgets for the three divisions in the department (Patrol, Investigations and Support). In the years of handling the budgets I finished in the black every year for the total department budget, then any other department within the city (The Police Department budget was over $1.3 million).

H/R: How would you describe living in a border community?

PS: Living in a border community has its challenges with a separation of two cities by at one time four strands of barbed wire and now a steel wall. But for the most part it is just like any other city that I have been in through my travels throughout the United States, it is a safe environment.

H/R: Any special memories you and your family have shared here?

PS: Married Connie Villalobos in August 1989 and this is our 31st year together. I have two stepchildren all grown up, Victor, a heavy equipment construction worker, and Renee, who has two children, Carlos, age 13, and Ava, age 11, our two grandchildren living in Flagstaff. The parents Renee Rios (DHS graduate and a UofA alumni) who teaches in Flagstaff and Carlos Rios (Texas A&M alumni), her husband, is an engineer with GORE Medical in Flagstaff. Memories that I as well as my family have had would be the many people we have met while here in Douglas. The memories of being part of the American Legion, marching in the Drum & Bugle Corps., and the Legion Color Guard for myself and my sister and mother involved in the Legion Auxiliary and the State Champion Girls Color Guard, all made possible by my dads’ military service. During my career, I was appointed by the Arizona governor to be the (first line officer) police officer on then the ALEOAC Board (Arizona Law Enforcement Officer Advisory Council). Later it became the AZPOST (Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training) Board from September 1991 to January 2000, and served a total of eight and a half years until I retired in 2000. I was appointed by Gov. Hull to be part of the Arizona Department of Corrections Retirement Board on Sept. 27, 2002, and on Sept. 27, 2006 was re-appointed by Gov. Napolitano. I was elected as the board chairman on Jan. 20, 2004 (re-elected twice), and retired from the board in December 2010.

I have seen many changes in the city from being a very busy city, to now in trying new ideas, trying to keep people safe during the pandemic, attempting to bring in new and building on the commercial companies we have currently. We must move forward. I am, as well as my family are, proud to call Douglas our home for the last 63 years. I am now in my 21st year of retirement. After riding my 2002 Harley Ultra Classic for 14 years, which was very enjoyable, it was replaced in January 2016 by my current Harley Tri-Glide Ultra Classic. With more riding experiences to come, as well as enjoying our grandchildren.

H/R: You are still involved with the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police, how many years and what are your responsibilities?

PS: During my career I was and still am involved with the Fraternal Order of Police, this is my 47th year as a member. The FOP is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States with over 355,000 members. I held the offices in the local FOP Lodge (Douglas # 38), sergeant at arms, second vice president, secretary, first vice president and president, then the state trustee (Douglas Lodge 38 representative on the state board of directors for six years). I was elected to the position of sergeant at arms on the state board in 1984, then two years later was elected as the second VP 1986-87 and then in 1987 was elected as the state lodge secretary and held that position until June 1989, was elected as state vice president in 1989 and re-elected as state VP in 1991, then elected as the state president in 1991 and re-elected as state president 1992 to 1993. I was the immediate past state president from June 1993 to June 1994. After then, the then state secretary failed to carry out the duties, I was asked to run again for the position of state secretary, so in June 1994 I was elected as state secretary and have been re-elected up and until now (2021), 27 years, and will serve until 2022. As the state secretary, I have the duty to have custody of the books, records, documents and the seal of the lodge. I must record all the proceedings of every meeting of the state board and at the biennial state conference. I also receive all money due the lodge and conduct the general correspondence between each executive officer and all the lodges. Appointed as a committee member to the National FOP Accreditation Committee from 1993 to 1995. Was elected to the FOP Western States Association at the 1997 National FOP Conference and held the offices of secretary/treasurer, vice chairman and chairman until 2007. I was on the National FOP Member of the Year Awards Committee from 1995 to 2001. Appointed by national FOP President Steve Young as the chairman of the National Compliance Committee and wrote the Compliance Standards and Mission Statement that every FOP Lodge in the country are required to follow. At the National FOP Conference in August 2003, I was elected as the National FOP Trustee by the Arizona FOP. Delegate to serve on the National FOP Board of Directors and re-elected twice until August 2009.

H/R: You are also the president of the Douglas IDA (Industrial Development Authority). How many years have you been a member and how would you describe the work the IDA does?

PS: I was appointed on July 1, 2009, by Mayor (Mike) Gomez and the Douglas City Council to serve as a member of the Douglas Industrial Development Authority Inc. I was reappointed to the board in 2015. I was elected by the board members as the president in 2018 and re-elected in January 2020. This is my second term (this corporation promotes industry and businesses). And I am currently the chairman of the Douglas Regional Economic Development Organization Inc. This is my third year (this organization is assisting with the 2-Port Solution). The 2-Port Solution is working on renovating the current Port of Entry and building a new Commercial Port of Entry, west of Douglas, through federal funding and a combined partnership among the city of Douglas, the Port Authority, the Douglas IDA and Cochise County.

This story has been edited due to space constraints; see the entire interview at myheraldreview.com.