By Ryan Lengerich
While Labor Day weekend might be many Tucumcari resident’s last time to cut loose prior to summer’s end, law enforcement will be making sure it’s the last time to party — legally.
Tucumcari police department and New Mexico State Police will be stepping up patrols inside the city and in outlying areas this weekend in an attempt to control any outlandish behavior on the last major holiday before the fall and winter seasons.
Lt. Nathan Wallace of the New Mexico State Police said this weekend is an “Operation: Combined Accident Reduction Effort” (CARE) weekend. CARE is put to use during weekends of nearly all major holidays and means more on duty officers, speed and seat belt enforcement.
Wallace said there will also be “saturation patrol” geared solely toward curbing drunk driving.
“Any holiday where we have a long weekend we do have a higher number of people at night drinking and driving and partying,” Wallace said.
Although state police will be setting up extra patrol on the outlying city areas, Wallace said officers are told to take action if necessary inside city limits.
Tucumcari Police Chief Dennis Townsend will also add enforcement throughout the weekend. He said Tucumcari often has little added activity during Labor Day weekend because many residents leave town.
However, for those in or passing through town choosing to celebrate, Townsend said the city police will provide rides for those crossing the line from celebration — to intoxication.
“If we see them driving and drinking then we take them to jail,” he said. “But if they call us from the bar or a friends house and they have been drinking we will come and pick them up and take them to their house.”
In addition to police officers, local bar employees will be working overtime this weekend. Roy Smith and Robert Beadle work at Trails West Lounge on W. Tucumcari Blvd. Smith said Labor Day brings more business than an average weekend and also more drop-ins by local enforcement.
He said Trails West employees will often walk or drive home customers to drunk to do so themselves. Beadle, a bouncer, said a larger crowd means more difficulty accessing the bar — which is better for him.
“The more people we have here the less drunks we get.”