Making Waves - Alumni Spotlight and Testimonials
Alumni Spotlight Chief Rodriguez
At Rio Salado College, we don’t just see our degree programs as venues for passing down knowledge and skills—they are communities unto themselves, bringing together people with a shared passion and getting them ready to carry that passion out into the rest of the world.
Through our Administration of Justice and Law Enforcement Technology (LET) programs, we’ve helped foster a community of peacekeepers who are eager to bring a sense of safety and stability to their neighborhoods. We count many civil servants, police officers, and first responders among our alumni. And now we can add a police chief to that distinguished group of Rio graduates.
In May of this year, Santiago “Jimmy” Rodriguez was promoted to police chief of Goodyear. His law enforcement career dates back to 1996 when he got his start as a detention officer. Becoming a volunteer reserve officer in 1998, he was promoted to a full-time paid officer in 2000.
The future Chief Rodriguez swiftly moved up the ranks in the new millennium. He was promoted to sergeant in 2006, lieutenant in 2011, and deputy chief in 2015. He ran the gamut of roles on the force, transitioning from a patrol officer on the beat to investigator and later supervisor positions.
Chief Rodriguez’s meteoric rise from detention officer to police chief can be attributed to several factors: his own personal tenacity, his willingness to take on a variety of different roles in law enforcement (including community services, K-9 unit, training divisions, hiring and recruitment, and school resource officer programs), and his education.
A graduate of both the FBI National Academy (where he currently serves as Vice President of their Arizona board) and the International Association Chiefs of Police Leadership in Police Organizations, Chief Rodriguez also earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Law Enforcement Technology at Rio Salado College. He’s received a number of notable awards in his field, including the 2006 Department Distinguished Officer Award, the 2010 Chief’s Certificate of Excellence, and the 2011 Arizona in Action Award for Lids on Kids.
Describing his duties as a police chief in an interview for The West Valley View, Chief Rodriguez said that he's focused on providing "best practices involving safety and quality of life for our employees and the citizens we serve." Chief Rodriguez has spearheaded several forward-thinking initiatives in his time on the force to make those best practices a reality. He helped lead the efforts to bring body cameras to the Goodyear department, bringing a higher-level of transparency to the police force and allowing for more effective prosecutions of crimes. He also teaches Law Enforcement Spanish and Supervision and Management Principles at the Glendale Community College Police Academy.
“Simply responding to 911 calls isn’t good enough for me,” Rodriguez told The Daily Independent. “Interacting with our residents one-on-one each day helps us better understand who we serve in order to prevent crime and build a stronger city.” From Rio Salado LET student to police chief and instructor, Santiago Rodriguez has embodied the best qualities of his field: a dedication to public service, a willingness to embrace change, and an understanding that justice is a collaborative effort between peacekeepers and their community.