Conchas residents and San Miguel County authorities seem to agree on one thing when it comes to their county police force.
“There’s not enough cover,” County Sheriff Bennie Vigil said.
A sheriff, undersheriff, sergeant and six deputies make up the county police force, which patrols a 4,700-square-mile area. Vigil said he wanted to change his force’s scheduling so officers could patrol on a 24-hour-a-day basis, but Conchas residents expressed opposition to the idea.
“I think the sheriff’s office at some point should go to a 24/7 operation, but I think there has to be – and this is the concern that a lot of the people out there have – there has to be some special arrangement for Conchas because it is so far removed from the rest of the county, being on the easternmost edge of San Miguel County,” County Commissioner Nicholas Leger said.
Victor Harp, manager of the American Legion Post 19 bar in Conchas, arranged a town hall meeting at the legion with Vigil and Leger. He said 64 area residents showed up at the 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday to discuss the lack of adequate police coverage in the area.
“The issue was that we would lose what little coverage we do have. We showed up in force,” Harp said. “The whole idea of going to 24/7 coverage out of Vegas was a good idea. (Vigil) just doesn’t have the resources for it. You can’t build a building out of 10 bricks.”
Vigil said he explained to residents that state police would also take calls from Conchas.
However, Sheriff Vigil had already decided not to change the current patrol schedule before the meeting was called to order Tuesday.
“Something came up so we had to stay with the same schedule until that issue is solved,” Vigil said. He said he could not discuss what issue arose that prevented the Sheriff’s department from making the scheduling change.
Vigil said he would probably announce any schedule change publicly, and said he did not know when the schedule might change as he proposed.
The issue remains unsolved, but Harp said he was pleased with how his meeting went.
“I do appreciate that our commissioner and our sheriff and undersheriff did care enough to come out,” Harp said.