Most New Mexicans know how he passed away. Unfortunately he like many Law Enforcement Officers across the nation died in an accident. Although his was an helicopter accident during a rescue mission. The truth is that most Law Enforcement Officers do not die at the hand of a criminal or a gun but in accidents, usually automobile accidents. We will miss Sgt. Tingwall and his dedication and loyalty to New Mexicans is one which we will be hard pressed to match with a new recruit.
We often look to ways to prevent deaths in law enforcement and much of the focus is on assault weapons, "cop killer bullets", bullet resistant vests, training, and tactics. This is all important and we need to continue to push these issues. However, as police agencies we need to look for new and innovative ways to prevent the biggest killer of our officers, accidents. Perhaps Sgt. Tingwall's accident is not a good example of a preventable one, that question may or may not be answered in some future date. However, at least once a year I take the black band I keep in a jewelry box on my dresser and place it on my badge. It is the saddest thing I do each year. It would be nice to skip a year or two.
Below is the obituary and photo posted by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety,
Sgt. Andrew F. "Andy" Tingwall served with the New Mexico State Police since 1995 and graduated with the 56th New Mexico State Police Recruit School. His first post was District 6 in Gallup, NM. In 1998 he was moved to the Training and Recruiting Division at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Acadamy. Sgt. Tingwall spent five years at the Academy where he was the lead instructor for the Recruit School. During his time at the Academy, Sgt. Tingwall was part of the NMSP Tactical Team for five years as an entry man. Sgt. Tingwall was transferred to the New Mexico State Police Aircraft Section in 2003, where he logged 1,300 hours flying time as a pilot. In 2008 he was named the Chief Pilot of this Section.
Sgt. Tingwall was named 2008 Officer of the Year in March 2009 by the New Mexico Sheriffs and Police Association for his lifesaving efforts in an August 2008 arroyo rescue of an Albuquerque man. He was to be honored by his fellow state police officers this month with a Medal of Valor for the same incident.
Sgt. Tingwall is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Donations are being accepted at any Wells Fargo Bank, nationwide under Tingwall Memorial Fund.