NAVAJO COUNTY — One of the finest in blue at the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office is retiring at the end of the month.
Chief Deputy Jim Molesa turning in his badge Dec. 23 after 38 years in law enforcement.
Molesa has been the chief deputy at the NCSO for the last five years. He said he wants to retire while he is still in good health and can still be able to enjoy retirement.
He said he is first going to take some time off to relax at his home in Show Low and reconnect with himself and family.
Molesa, like all members of law enforcement, has been on duty protecting the public while missing out on certain parts of family life and holidays. A law enforcement officer and his/her family also never know if they will come home at the end of their shift.
“I am going to use the first month to reconnect with my wife and four grandchildren,” Molesa said.
What comes next is still up in the air.
Molesa started in law enforcement in 1979 with the Mesa Police Department after graduating from Arizona State University in Tempe.
“I always wanted to be in law enforcement — always” he said. “I stayed with Mesa for almost 12 years, and when I was with Mesa I had a great career. Mesa is a strong department,” he said. “Four years in patrol and four years in physical-sexual abuse against children. And after four years (in physical-sexual child abuse), I went to my managers and said, ‘I don’t want to promote, but I have to do something else.
“It was probably one of the most rewarding times I ever spent in law enforcement because when you put somebody in jail after they’ve hurt a little kid, some people I worked on are still in jail today,” he said.
But it took a physical and emotional toll on him.
Molesa said he was told the only thing left open to him was narcotics. So he was placed on a DEA task force as a detective.
“I got to hang around DEA agents and see what the DEA was all about and said, ‘This looks like a fun career.’ So after 12 years, I left Mesa (in 1991) and I joined DEA and I spent 22 years with DEA,” Molesa said.
So what brought him to the NCSO?
Molesa said during his time with the DEA in Flagstaff, he met and forged a friendship with Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark. That friendship and his background in law enforcement prompted him to, one day after retiring from the DEA, go to work for Clark.
“I told him I only wanted to do five years….