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Hundreds pay tribute to detective who died in San Juan County, N.M.

Authorities release few details about deputy’s death

FARMINGTON – Community members paid tribute Thursday to a San Juan County Sheriff’s Office detective who died last week while on duty.

Hundreds of cars filled a parking lot at McGee Park, the starting point of a memorial procession that included friends, family, law enforcement and other service workers. The procession went through Aztec and north into Colorado.

Law enforcement has released few details about the detective’s death, other than to confirm a deputy died while on duty and that the death was not duty-related. The Sheriff’s Office called it an “isolated incident” and said it does not release information about such incidents.

Becenti

The Farmington Police Department investigated the case. An open records request submitted last week by The Durango Herald revealed officers responded about 2 p.m. Feb. 18 to an “unattended death” at the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in Aztec. Officers arrived to find Katie Becenti, 36, deceased. It did not identify the cause of death.

Becenti was a mother of three, wife and detective for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. In her obituary, she was called “an absolute rock star in everything she did.”

At the procession Thursday, law enforcement vehicles, firetrucks, state department vehicles and community members’ vehicles were all staged to participate.

The procession drove under a large American flag being held up by two firetrucks.

On the route leaving the park, Sheriff’s Office deputies lined up to salute those in the procession. Other members of the community showed up in their vehicles and lined the route as well.

A San Juan County Sheriff’s Office truck brings up the end of a procession held Thursday in Farmington in honor of Detective Katie Becenti, who died while on duty Feb. 18. Her death was not duty-related.

Among the many vehicles that showed up was a school bus.

Billy Huish, Becenti’s former school bus driver, said Becenti’s mother was a bus driver for many years before retiring. Huish said he watched Becenti grow up. And even as Becenti grew to over 6 feet tall, he said he always called her “Shorty.”

“Anybody who knew Katie will definitely miss her,” he said. “She was that kind of person.”

Huish said her smile was genuine and could light up a room. He referred to a photo that accompanied her obituary and said, “That picture with that big ol’ grin on her face, that was just her.”

“She will be missed dearly,” he said. “I just loved her to death.”

According to her obituary, Becenti is survived by family including her husband, Shaun, and children Abby, Tate and Olivia.

mmitchell@durangoherald.com

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