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HARRIS -- Joseph "Joe" Anthony Harris, Sr., Joe was born in South Ozone Park, Brooklyn, New York to Arthur and Helen Harris. He grew up on Long Island with his big Italian family. He moved to New Mexico in the late 1970's with his parents to finish out school at Cibola High School. He worked at Spartan for a couple of years in Rio Rancho until he decided he wanted to either be a Marine or a Police Officer. He applied to both the Marines and Albuquerque Police Department and decided that whoever called first would be the one he went with, so he became an APD officer. He started with Rio Rancho soon after in 1984 and was one of the first dozen or so original Rio Rancho police officers. He immediately decided that community relations were his calling. He started the D.A.R.E. program here and continued on to run the G.R.E.A.T. program, Neighborhood Watch, McGruff the Crime Dog, Including the Citizen Police Academy and any other program he could bring to the department that had to do with the community safety. He also was a patrol officer, cross-trained in fire-fighting and EMT. He served his 20 years with Rio Rancho Police and retired in 2004. He had to wait a mandatory 90 days before he could again start with law enforcement, so on day 91 he was sworn in as a deputy with Sandoval County. He immediately began successfully turning that department into a community minded police department as well. He met Theresa Moriarty 4 years ago. When he found out she was a retired New York police officer, he recruited her to be his partner. Soon we realized that Joe and Theresa were brother and sister separated at birth. Anyone who knew the two of them, especially together, could attest to their closeness and similarities. Joe was a great Christian man; he attended Rio Rancho Calvary Church. He loved God, and if you listened when he drove by you, you would here the Christian radio station blasting out of his Police Unit and him singing along. If you ever ate a meal with him, be ready for a prayer, a long one. He was also the owner of Elite Personal Protection, did body guarding for celebrities and taught concealed carry classes. He loved teaching others how to live safe and stay safe. Joe was the quintessential father to his children. He was always generous, with his money, time and love. He loved them fiercely, and took his roll in raising children very seriously. He never went anywhere without his sons, Joe Jr. and David. As they grew older in this community, they learned the way of their father, and they soon found out, everyone knows Joe Harris. In 1999 his joy, Allyson, was born. If there was ever a father in love with his daughter, this was it. She was his eternal joy; from playing barbies together, to having their infamous "daddy date days" to making sure he snuggled her to sleep every single night. Joe and Tonia met in 1993. Their first date was Joe picking her up from work and taking her to downtown court to talk to his judge friend to "fix" her ticket. That was it, he impressed her and the rest is history. They married in 1994 and had just celebrated their 15th anniversary in May. Joe always said that no one thought they would make it, but they did. Joe was the most dedicated police officer Rio Rancho ever knew. When people asked him why he kept doing it, he just replied, I'm not done yet. You could easily spot Joe around Sandoval County, in his 9-11 commemorative sheriff's department vehicle he designed, eating at his many friend's restaurants, going into schools with is K-9 partner, Harley, on his motorcycle, at the gym, in his big truck driving around, or chilling at home with Tonia and Ally in the paradise of a backyard he designed. Joe died a hero, doing exactly what he wanted to be doing. No one will ever replace him, nor can they, he left big shoes to fill, and they will always remain empty. Joe is survived by his wife, Tonia Harris of Rio Rancho; children, Allyson McKenna Harris of Rio Rancho, David Joseph Harris of Rio Rancho, Joseph Anthony Harris, Jr. of Everett, WA, Charis Morse of San Antonio, TX, and Jocelyn Harris of Rio Rancho; grandchildren, Jordan and Christian; aunt, Louise LoGuercio; Harley Harris (His police dog); and numerous other family and friends throughout New Mexico, New York, and Florida. The Visitation for Joe will be held on Sunday, July 19, 2009 from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM and on Monday, July 20, 2009 from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM in the Chapel of Daniels Family Funeral Services, Sara Road at Meadowlark Ln., Rio Rancho. The Service will be held on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 11:00 AM at the Santa Ana Star Center, 3001 Civic Center Dr., Rio Rancho. Private Interment with his family and law enforcement family will follow at Vista Verde Memorial Park, Sara Rd. at Meadowlark Ln., Rio Rancho with full Police honors. A reception will be held after the services at the Rio Rancho Mid-High School, 1600 40th St. NE, Rio Rancho. A Memorial Fund will be established in Joe's name, so for now, contributions may be sent to Daniels Family Funeral Services, 4310 Sara Rd., Rio Rancho, NM 87124 in his name. For those who wish, you may send condolences to the family at www.danielsfuneral.com. Arrangements are entrusted to Daniels Family Funeral Services 4310 Sara Road SE Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87124 (505) 892-9920
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