Former San Jon officer joins Quay County Sheriff’s Office

Thomas Garcia

San Jon’s laid off police officer has found new work at the Quay County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Joe Schallert announced the hiring of Ben Gates during Monday’s meeting with county commissioners.

The Quay County Commission was told that a new deputy has been hired by the Quay County Sheriff’s Office.

Schallert said Gates began working for the sheriff’s office on Feb. 2.

Gates was the officer for the Village of San Jon until that position was eliminated last year as a result of a cost cutting measure, said Bobby Rose, San Jon Village manager.

“Several efforts were made by the residents to retain Gates as the village’s officer,” Rose said. “In the end, it just was not financially possible to retain Gates’ position.”

Schallert said that the Village of San Jon entered into a Joint Powers Agreement with the sheriff’s office. That agreement gave the sheriff the ability to use a $20,000 Law Enforcement Protection Fund grant the village receives from the state.

San Jon had to have the New Mexico Department of Finance Authority authorize the transfer and use of the funds by the sheriff’s office to offset Gates’ salary, Schallert said.

“They chose to continue receiving the funds in case they decide to start their village police department again,” Schallert said.
Schallert said that hiring Gates as a deputy has many benefits for the department.

“He was raised in Quay County and knows the area,” Schallert said. “He is a certified law enforcement officer and that allows him to get right to work. If we hired an uncertified deputy, then we would have to send him to the state’s five-month academy.”

With Gates, the sheriff’s office now has six full-time deputies, an undersheriff and sheriff on staff, Schallert said.

Schallert said that Gates is going through some field training with fellow deputies and is learning the office’s policies and procedures.
“Having Ben as part of sheriff’s office is going to be a big help,” Schallert said. Gates’ assisgnments will be countywide including San Jon.
“We are proud that Ben is working in San Jon once again,” Rose said. “He has such good working relations with the community.”

Other items before the commission were:
• The commission approved an application for funding to the New Mexico Fire Protection Grant Council. Quay County Fire Marshall Donald Adams is applying for $637,750 for equipment for the county’s eight fire districts.