Local resident Rebeca Toone said she and her husband were driving through Nogales on March 1 when they saw a man restoring the monument to slain DPS Office Manuel Tapia on Grand Avenue, across from the Quality Hotel Americana. She stopped to snap his photo and find out more about his work.
It turned out the man was Phoneix resident Robbie Milam, who retired as a sergeant with Arizona Department of Public Safety in 2017 after 30 years of service.
Milam told the NI via email that last summer, a group of DPS retirees organized a motorcycle ride to honor the 30 DPS officers who were killed in the line of duty, and part of the effort included visiting and refurbishing the officers’ memorial markers. This year, the organizers expanded the scope of the project to include all first responders.
“My motivation for coming to Nogales was purely to honor Manuel Tapia’s memory and try to make the monument look as good as possible, because he deserves nothing less,” Milam said.
Toone said that in addition to taking his photo, she and her husband thanked Milam for his service and his efforts to honor others. “He really warmed our hearts,” she said.
Tapia, a Tumacacori resident and father of three young children, died after being shot on Jan. 7, 1991 by an 18-year-old drug runner whom he had pulled over near the site of where his memorial now stands.