State patrol officer commands area

William Thompson

Lieutenant Nathan Wallace of the New Mexico State Police is in charge of a large portion of eastern New Mexico from an area west of Santa Rosa all the way to the state border with Texas.

Based in Tucumcari, Wallace said he has around eleven officers under his command in Tucumcari and Quay County.
“We respond to any call we receive from residents of Tucumcari and Quay County,” said Wallace. “We have a very good working relationship with Tucumcari Police.”
Wallace said it is not unusual for his officers to make traffic stops in Tucumcari. “I made a traffic stop in my unmarked vehicle just the other day,” said Wallace. “As New Mexico State Police officers, we serve as a full-service law enforcement agency anywhere in the state of New Mexico including cities like Tucumcari. Wallace said the main crime problems his officers face in the Quay County area can be linked to drugs and alcohol. He said drug and alcohol problems affect a community’s quality of life. Wallace said DWI cases have dropped in the past two years, and he said that trend appears to be continuing. He also said that although drugs are a big problem, drug crime is not that high in Tucumcari compared to other communities similar in size.

“DWI arrests have gone down in the past two years, and I see that trend continuing,” said Wallace. “I think that is due to higher visibility on the part of New Mexico State Police. As for the drug problem, drugs are brought into Tucumcari from Albuquerque, Amarillo and Clovis. We also make arrests of people transporting drugs along I-40.” Wallace said it was not uncommon for his officers to seize as much as 100 pounds or more of marijuana in highway arrests.
Wallace began his state police career in 1984. He has spent about 18 of those years in the Quay County area.
“I’ve worked in other parts of the state, but I keep coming back to Quay County,” said Wallace. “I am drawn to the people of Quay County.” Wallace’s career has not been without its share of danger. Wallace was shot in the leg in 1989.

I responded to an accident on I-40 and I wound up being shot in the leg,” he said. “I was out of action for two to three months.” Wallace said state police still deal with a lot of activity along I-40 including fugitives on the run and stolen vehicles but he and his officers are concerned about the welfare of Tucumcari residents as well. One reason for high visibility of state officers on the streets of Tucumcari is that Wallace wants his officers more involved in “community policing.” “The purpose of community policing is to address the problems affecting the quality of life for residents of Quay County and those passing through Quay County,” he said. “I would like everyone in Quay County to be on a first name basis with all of our officers.”