Tucumcari police officers were accused of inappropriate behavior by five different individuals who spoke at Thursday’s Tucumcari City Commission meeting held at city hall.
George Aragon, Jeff Cordova, Shari Anaya, Amber Martin and Anthony Hendron all complained about police to commissioners. Chief Dennis Townsend was not at the meeting and declined to discuss the allegations.
Aragon read from a prepared statement, which he said detailed his being verbally abused by Townsend on July 7 at Tucumcari City Hall in front of witnesses.
Aragon said he came to city hall to obtain a certificate testifying about an officer’s training in using radar guns.
Aragon said he spoke with assistant city manager Marty Garcia who told him the information was a public record and he was entitled to receive a copy from police. But Aragon said police would not release the information. Aragon said he then went back to Garcia’s office where he and Garcia called Townsend on a speaker phone. “Mr. Townsend was very irate and screaming over the speaker phone and then hung up,” Aragon told commissioners.
Aragon said Townsend eventually showed up at city hall with the requested certification, left once again and then “returned screaming and acting very obnoxious again.”
Cordova, Hendron and Martin all complained about police response to a “drinking in public” incident on Friday, July 2 at Tucumcari’s city softball field. Cordova said while he was being cited and charged with drinking in public he said an officer told him she knew where he lived and knew his wife.
“What did she mean by that?” Cordova asked commissioners. “They (the police) are there to protect and serve, not to harass.”
Hendron said despite not having any alcohol he was still cited for the illegal activity. “I had a Diet Coke in my hand. Just ask (Officer) Derek Shaw,” said Hendron. “It would be a different story if we were leaving the place a mess, but we don’t.” Anaya spoke to an unrelated issue when her son was confronted by police. She said an officer told her son that he was familiar with Anaya because she had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Anaya said the allegation was “totally untrue and very negligent and very unprofessional.”
Later, Townsend referred questions to City Manager Richard Primrose saying that since he was not at the meeting Thursday, he could not comment . Primrose and Garcia on their parts declined comment because the issues were “personnel matters.” “I will say we are looking into all aspects of the allegations that were made,” Primrose said.
Commission members and the mayor said they saluted the citizens who came forward to make the concerns known.
“I know it took a great deal of courage to come up here and speak to us,” said Commissioner Mary Mayfield, “but I for one want to thank you for doing it.” Mayor Antonio Apodoca said commission members would meet with the police chief and the city manager “to get to the bottom of this.”