By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun
New Mexico State Police Capt. Daniel Lopez has been offered the cityï¿½s top law enforcement position in Tucumcari, said city manager John Sutherland.
ï¿½This is the best choice,ï¿½ Sutherland said.
Lopez was one of eight candidates for the position.
However, the city may not be able to hire Lopez as chief of police until, at least mid-December, because of certain requirements Lopez must meet to keep his retirement intact, Sutherland said.
ï¿½The city is willing to wait for the requirement to be met,ï¿½ Sutherland said.
Lopez said he has not yet officially retired from the state police and that he must meet a ï¿½sit outï¿½ requirement of 90 days or put his retirement pay and benefits from the Public Employees Retirement Association in jeopardy.
According to the associationï¿½s guidelines, Lopez said he is required to have a 90-day separation period ï¿½before I can accept the position and go on salary with the city of Tucumcari. … or any similar position with a governmental agency in a municipality, county or state.ï¿½
The answers may come later today from the cityï¿½s attorney who has been trying to help the city learn if there is some way to hire Lopez without waiting the 90 days, Sutherland said.
Lopez said he has 21 years and some months with the retirement association. He has worked 17 years for the state police and four and 1/2 years for Tucumcari and Quay County law enforcement, Lopez said.
Lopez is currently the commander of the N.M. State Police District Nine with headquarters in Clovis. The district covers the five-county area of Curry, Quay, Roosevelt, Guadalupe and De Baca counties. Small portions of San Miguel and Colfax counties also are included in the district.
As district commander, Lopez supervises 43 commissioned officers and 12 civilian employees, he said.
Lopez said he was attracted to the chiefï¿½s positionï¿½s because ï¿½Iï¿½ve always had strong ties to this community and I have a desire to improve the quality of life for its citizens most of whom Iï¿½ve known my entire life.ï¿½
Lopez said he had worked with and has a professional relationship with police officers in Tucumcari.
ï¿½The department,ï¿½ Lopez said, ï¿½has a great core of people who are dedicated, committed officers and who share similar interests as far as promoting the quality of life for citizens in Tucumcari.ï¿½
The decision to offer Lopez the job was made by a competitive hiring committee comprised of Sutherland, Fire Chief Mike Cherry, who is the cityï¿½s acting manager of the police department, and Clara Rey, who handles certain human resources matters for the city, Sutherland said.
Tucumcariï¿½s previous police chief, Larry Ham, resigned in mid-July to be closer to his family.