Q&A: Candidates for Quay County Sherriff sound off

 

DemWeb

 

QCS Staff

 

The following is a Q&A with the eight candidates running for the Quay County Sherriff’s Office.

 

Editor’s Note: The Candidates are listed in ballot order.

 

Frankie Gutierrez

 

Q. What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on Sheriff  Department policy and operations?

A: I would invite the residents of Quay County to attend county wide forums to openly discuss future policy and operations for the Sheriff’s Department. I would encourage the residents, at the forum, to form a committee, with at least one person from each entity (Logan, San Jon, Tucumcari, House and Nara Visa) within Quay County. This would give me an outline for the Department’s policy and operations, based on needs from each community. I would meet with the committee on a quarterly basis, to develop action plans, address progress and further concerns brought by the committee. I promise to always keep an open door policy and be willing to listen and will seriously consider any input.

 

Q: How would you increase the Sheriff Department’s presence in the community?

A: I would have the Department as a whole be more involved with the community, by being at all functions, (basketball games, football games, community activities etc.). I would make sure that there is Sheriff Department representation at all County wide organizational events and meetings. My goal is to make the Sheriff’s Department more proactive,in all the communities and work together with all local law enforcement.

 

Q: What do you think the Sheriff Department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: The Sheriff is the top law enforcement officer in the county, therefore I believe the Sheriff’s Department should take a more proactive role in leading all the agencies in combating illegal drugs within Quay County. Getting all of the agencies in Quay County working together by sharing information and resources, we can be more effective in combating illegal drugs.

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for Sheriff’s deputies?

A: Each certified law enforcement officer is required by law to have 40 hours of specific training in a 2 year period. This and foremost should be completed first to maintain their certification. I was certified as a General Police and Firearms instructor, in 2003, I will make sure the required courses are taught, then send the Deputies for more specialized training, (crimes scene investigation, crimes against the elderly, child abuse, Internet crimes against children, drug investigations, domestic violence, etc.). I will continue to utilize my contacts around the state to bring advanced trainers to Quay County, so that all the officers in the County can benefit.

 

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I have over 30 years of law enforcement experience;1983, deputy Quay County; 1986 Harding County undersheriff/ elected sheriff two terms; 1990, Chief of Police, Logan; 1999, TeamBuilders; 2000, deputy Quay County; 2001to present, lead investigator for the district attorney’s Office. In 2014 I was awarded as state Investigator of the Year, an award that is voted on by all the district attorneys. I truly enjoy helping people and doing what I can to improve our community. I feel my experience, my dedication, my ability to work with all law enforcement agencies and my ability to keep a cool head regardless of the situation are all qualities that are essential for any law enforcement officer, especially a sheriff. I believe all these qualities add up to why “I believe am the best candidate for the job”.

 

Nathan Wallace

Q:What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on Sheriff’s Department policy and operations?

 

A:I would be more involved in community activities, committees, organizations, schools, and with other agencies.  An open door policy is needed and all department employees need to be out in the county talking with people to hear the people’s concerns.  Action plans can be developed to address some of the input or concerns of the communities.  As employees of Quay County we still have to abide by and work within the boundaries of New Mexico law, current policies, and the United States Constitution.  As policies become outdated and no longer useful, they need to be updated as they provide guidance, direction, and accountability for personnel.  If new policies are needed, I will use my experience in writing policies to develop them.

 

Q: How would you increase the Sheriff’s Department’s presence in the community?

 

A:When I was sub-district commander, we were active in community activities, committees and the schools with positive results. The sheriff’s deputies will be more active in all of Quay County. Involvement in community activities, committees, organizations and the schools are critical.  Communicating, training, and working with all of the other law enforcement agencies will be a priority.  We will assist other agencies, investigate crimes and patrol areas throughout the county.  Schedules and shifts can be adjusted allowing deputies to be available when needed.  All personnel need to be familiar with and prepared to work in any area of Quay County as needed. We are still responsible to provide paper service, prisoner transports and court security when needed but much more can be accomplished.

 

Q: What do you think the Sheriff’s Department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

 

A:The Sheriff’s Office should be active in the enforcement of illegal drugs and other crimes.  It is important to develop a relationship with the public so people will share information concerning criminal activity.  A priority will be to train, share information and work with all of the other law enforcement agencies in the area.  It is imperative that the community and law enforcement work as a team to address the drug problem in our County.

Law enforcement needs to be involved with the schools, educating teachers on signs of drug usage, drug identification and other legal issues.  It is important for law enforcement to be good role models for students and help educate them regarding the hazards and consequences of (legal and illegal) drugs.

My experience and knowledge in drug enforcement and drug interdiction will be very helpful in trying to address the drug problems in Quay County.

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for Sheriff’s deputies?

 

A: First, ascertaining the training needs of each deputy, ensuring required training is completed, followed by any advanced training that is needed is a priority.  I will utilize my experience as an instructor or locate other training opportunities where needed.  It is also important to train with other agencies and utilize any instructors and/or training they have available to ensure all deputies are fully trained and competent.  There are numerous benefits to training with other agencies.  Besides allowing us to work within our budget, officers and deputies become more familiar with each other and the abilities of each other which is critical when working hazardous situations together.  A thorough and complete investigation of any crime, with a detailed report, is very important to make a prosecutable arrest.  Report writing is a very important aspect of any case.

 

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

 

A:I have proven that I have the ability to be an effective and efficient manager as shown by my experience as a state police sergeant and lieutenant.  Being the sub-district commander over all of Quay County and parts of other counties has helped prepare me to be sheriff of Quay County.  The basic, intermediate, advanced and command level certifications that I have obtained have also helped prepare and qualify me to be Quay County’s sheriff.   My proven history as a hard worker and my knowledge of law enforcement are additional reasons I am the best candidate for the position of Sheriff of Quay County.  I have the desire to serve the people of Quay County to the best of my ability and sincerely hope I am given the chance to be Sheriff of Quay County.

 

Dennis Smart

 

Q: What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on Sheriff’s Department policy and operations?

A: The Sheriff’s Department is here to serve our community to the best of our ability and we welcome any suggestions and concerns about our policy. If elected I will have an open door policy, where anyone can contact me and discuss concerns and suggestions to improve our

department to better serve the citizens of Quay County. The departments standard operations pocedure manual is written to better serve the citizens of Quay County and to have more organized ways of running the department. A large portion of the manual is written according to

state law, but other things may be changed to better serve our community. I personally will review the manual and make changes to make the Sheriff’s Department as professional as possible.

 

 

Q: How would you increase the Sheriff’s Department’s presence in the community?

A: We have a small department and a large responsibility to serve and protect our community. I plan on myself and my deputies being very involved in all community activities. I plan on communicating with all school officials, of the schools in Quay County and participating and being involved in all school functions, including sporting events. I would like to work with the faculty and students in training exercises so we can keep our schools as safe as possible. I want our children to understand that we are their friends and they can come to us with any problem that they have, and we will help them and they should not be afraid to come to us. I plan on myself and my deputies patrolling the county and showing you that we care about you and your properties.

 

 

Q: What do you think the sheriff’s department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: I believe the Sheriff’s Department should be very involved in combating illegal drug activity. Drug abusive is a huge problem in our county and in our country. I plan on contacting the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and have myself and all my deputies better trained in drug enforcement. All of the departments in our county are understaffed and the best way to work on this problem is to work together. I would like to set up a drug task force with members from all of the other law enforcement agencies and as a team, we could seriously work on this problem together. I believe we can make a difference if we get the proper training and work together.

 

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for Sheriff’s deputies?

A: By law we receive so much mandated law enforcement training each year through the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. I plan on contacting the Law Enforcement Academy to try and get them to put on training classes here in Quay County. We will try and find the classes that would benefit our officers and try to get those classes taught here. Agencies from all over the state are invited to participate in these classes. This would benefit us in several ways. Deputies would still be able to work during this time.  Deputies would get the training that they need, plus this would show other agencies how great citizens of Quay County really are. We also have certified Law Enforcement Instructors in most of the law enforcement agencies in Quay County. We would work with these agencies and have local instructors teach classes to officers from all of our departments.

 

Q:What makes you the best Candidate for the job?

A:I began my career as a law enforcement officer on September 10, 1973, with the Tucumcari Police Department. Being a law enforcement officer had been my dream since I was a small child. When I saw a law enforcement officer, I had so much respect for the profession that I knew I wanted to be one. J. Bronson Moore, Chief of the Tucumcari Police Department gave me that opportunity. In 1983 Sheriff David Joel Garnett asked me to work as a deputy under him and he sent me to FBI schools where I learned fingerprint classification and comparison. I also attended photography school where I learned to photograph crime scenes. I was also sent to homicide investigation school in Denver, Colo., and later became undersheriff before retiring. I was called back to the Quay County Sheriff’s Office in 2006 and I still work as a deputy sheriff today.

 

Lane Bradley

 

Q: What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on Sheriff’s Department policy and operations?

A: I would develop a Citizen Advisory Board to collaboratively establish and implement programs that seek to resolve concerns, conflicts, and issues regarding the Sheriff’s Department, the county, and communities within.  The board would conduct Town Hall-type meetings throughout the county to promote and encourage community input and enable public comment.  The board would then provide reviews concerning comments, complaints and suggestions from the community related to operations, policies and standard operating procedures. These reviews would then be evaluated and prioritized based on community needs and then implement improvements where applicable, needed, and allowed by funding. This process would allow me to solve problems in a timely manner, improve service, and build unity between the communities, residents, and public safety agencies throughout Quay County. This type of initiative would be important in building and preserving public trust in county law enforcement.

 

Q: How would you increase the Sheriff’s Department’s presence in the community?

A: The department’s presence needs to be increased throughout the entire county and the visibility of deputies patroling and attending functions is a priority and a deterrent to crime. I plan to implement programs to educate youth and adults in child predator awareness, personal safety, and firearm safety.  The department should develop a presence on the Internet and utilize the same technologies that citizens do. Social networking applications can increase interaction with citizens and provide a means of communication and another avenue for residents to provide tips on criminal activity. These approaches have been used successfully throughout the United States and keep people informed of incidents happening in the county, crime trends, missing person or children recovery efforts, and programs and services that are available.  Being involved and connected with the people we serve encourages them to do the same and promotes the role we should all share in community safety.

 

Q: What do you think the Sheriff’s Department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: The department’s role should be to assist in developing and actively participating in a county-wide task force that would have participation from Tucumcari PD, Logan PD, New Mexico State Police, and the district attorney’s office. Agencies that only investigate individually limit their information and resources and the results are minor and localized.  The drug problem in the county is interconnected and not confined to one location and should be actively and jointly investigated and prosecuted accordingly. I also plan to provide citizen-oriented training to educate residents on meth lab and narcotics awareness so that they can assist in being more “eyes and ears” within this large county and provide information on illegal activity anonymously. The war on the elimination of drugs will never be 100% successful, but with organized and pro-active efforts from law enforcement and citizens its effects within our county can be lessened.

 

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for sheriff’s deputies?

A: In reviewing the department’s budget it shows a trend in this area that has been poorly managed over the past several years. Currently, with the fiscal year ending in less than 50 days, less than one-fourth of the money budgeted for training has been utilized. I will evaluate each deputy’s training record to see what they are lacking or need to be updated on and see that those needs are met.  I will work with the state academy to attempt to make advanced and specialized training classes available locally to benefit all departments in the county. By doing so, more deputies and officers can attend and at expense that would be significantly less than sending them individually for 3 to 5 days at other locations. This will also draw officials from other areas of the state into our community to share ideas, knowledge, and boost the local economy with meals and lodging.

 

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I bring a fresh perspective to the office and not the same status-quo. I am the only candidate on record planning to implement programs that will educate citizens and provide a proactive presence in the schools and county. I have been actively involved in the community for many years as a 4-H youth leader and through the Friends of the NRA. I have been an interim board member for Tucumcari Public Schools, by appointment of the state Secretary of Education. I hold a Bachelor of Occupational Education/Criminal Justice from ENMU, an A.A. degree in Public Administration/Law Enforcement from MCC. I was previously a Tucumcari police officer and graduated from the academy with honors. I have completed numerous advanced training courses that include, NM All Disaster Response, incident management, and meth lab detection. I also want to regain the respect for the department that has been lost.

 

 

Larry Cooksey

Q:What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on Sheriff’s Department policy and operations?

A: I will request from the citizens of the county a list of their concerns and views of sheriff’s office operations and policies. I would then attempt to address them within the parameters of the office’s statutory requirements.

Q: How would you increase the sheriff’s department’s presence in the community?

A: I will divide the county into districts and require the officers to patrol those districts and learn the people and buildings and equipment in those districts so they are aware of who belongs there and who does not. If they see someone there who is not normal for the area they have a reason to check them out and hopefully cut down on criminal activity.

Q: What do you think the sheriff’s department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: The sheriff’s office’s role should be as proactive as it can be. Because of the changes in what the Sheriff’s office statutory duties are I see the sheriff’s office’s role more as assisting other agencies. If the deputies do discover illegal drug activity, I do expect them to pursue the case to the end. Battling drugs in our community cannot be dependent on the actions of one department or office. It it will require a taskforce of multi-department officers , and I am willing to be a part of such a taskforce and supply manpower as needed.

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for sheriff’s deputies?

A: I am a believer in training and I will be looking for training in areas that the sheriff’s officers need and I will be sending deputies to such training. I feel there is a need for training in investigative areas and community policing along with other areas and that is where I will concentrate first.

 

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I feel that I am the best candidate for the job because of my training, experience and familiarity with the requirements placed on the Sheriff’s Office today. I am also aware of the budgetary restraints that the office works under and am aware of how tight the spending constraints are. I have a vision of where I want this office to go in the future and I believe the citizens of Quay County deserve the best that I can provide them.

 

 

Ben Gates

 

Q: What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on sheriff’s department policy and operations?

A: Many of the policy and operation practices for the sheriff’s department are mandated by the state of New Mexico. For example, serving papers, prisoner transports, courtroom security, and updating records for sex offenders. One of the most important aspects of operations that needs to change is communications and support between the various law enforcement agencies: state, city, motor transportation department, and rural police departments, as well as branding inspectors.  If we all work together, we can share common information about concerns and crimes in our county. If we are all working toward the same goal, we can make a greater impact on safety and security for our citizens.  Additionally, community input can be received by deputies attending meetings held by support organizations in our county. I will encourage those organizations to make us aware of their monthly meetings, so an officer can be present for input and information.

 

Q: How would you increase the sheriff’s department’s presence in the community?

A: One of the first actions that needs to be done is to fill all vacant deputy positions in order to provide more coverage in the county. Deputies need to be visible in all communities. Our county does not have the budget to house a deputy in every community; however, that does not limit a sheriff from scheduling a deputy to be seen routinely in every community. I will ensure that deputies will be seen throughout the county and in every rural community. Deputies need to be visible in order to deter crime before it happens, not after. With more visibility, people will become comfortable in approaching deputies and reporting suspicious activities they see taking place. Consequently, we can monitor and investigate the situation before it becomes a crime, or better yet, to arrest and convict the criminals involved in a crime.

 

Q: What do you think the sheriff’s department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: The sheriff’s department can play a significant role in combating illegal drugs, because deputies already have a good idea who belongs in our rural areas and communities, and with more visibility, we will know who doesn’t. We must work as a consortium with other agencies to combat illegal drug activities. It should not be about whose in the spotlight for being the instigators of combating drugs, it should be about the fact we all worked together, supporting the lead agency investigating an illegal drug situation. We must include and work closely with our district attorney’s office to make this work. With all of us working together, we can make a big difference in reported drug activities by knowing we are working as a whole, knowing the district attorney is on our side, knowing those involved will be prosecuted, and knowing we are making our county safer.

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for sheriff’s deputies?

A: Deputies for the sheriff’s department currently receive mandated trainings to keep all certifications current with the state of New Mexico. In conjunction with those mandates, several deputies have received specialized trainings for specific areas of law enforcement: combating drugs, using Tasers, and providing courtroom security. Ultimately, I hope to increase this line item in the budget so more deputies can become certified and serve in all areas needed in the county. Along with that, some deputies have certain skills that they are better in; therefore, they need to receive intense training in the areas of their skills and interests. With these diverse skills and advanced trainings, we can combat numerous areas of concerns in our county in order to investigate and get convictions on the crimes committed.  Providing these trainings and communicating to the deputies that the trainings are available, will allow them opportunities to broaden their skills of service.

 

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I am the best candidate for the job because I am dedicated not only the profession but also to Quay County. I have lived and worked in this county my entire life. I know this county and most of the back roads that go along with it. I have good working relations with all law enforcement agencies. I have investigated numerous crimes that required close work local, state, and federal agencies. The sheriff’s office must become proactive in our county, and as sheriff, I will remain pro-active in the county. When I went to work for the sheriff’s department I told them I would not sit in the office. I want to be out in the county meeting the public, solving crimes, serving the communities, and keeping a balanced budget as a team-based leader. Our county is not about the sheriff’s department-it’s about the people.

 

RepWeb

 

Russell Shafer

 

Q: What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on Sheriff’s Department policy and operations?

A: The community will always be invited to share their opinions and offer feedback to Departmental policy and procedures and they will be considered within the limitations of the law.

 

Q: How would you increase the Sheriff’s Department’s presence in the community?

A: Increased patrols with patrol units that are more heavily marked and getting the Department back up to a full staff.

 

Q: What do you think the Sheriff’s Department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: Being active in the region’s drug task force and cooperating with other local law enforcement agencies.  Utilizing state-funded drug interdiction monies and programs and training for deputies.

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for Sheriff’s deputies?

A: I will utilize New Mexico’s training facilities such as the Academy in Santa Fe for advanced training. I will work with the county manager’s office in working out a deputy incentive program such as tuition assistance at Mesalands Community College for achieving a higher education in the fields of law enforcement.

 

 

 

 

Juan Barrras

 

Q: What would you do to solicit and act on more community input on sheriffs department policy and operations?

A: My plan is to utilize a panel of 3 to 5 public citizens to review and discuss operating procedures and policies which may need to be added or changed.

 

Q: How would you increase the sheriff’s department’s presence in the community?

A: My plan is to involve myself and existing staff in participating in any activities involving the city or the county, to be present so that the citizens of Quay County will know that we are in fact interested in what is happening in our county. I will have an open door policy at all times.

 

Q: What do you think the sheriff’s department’s role should be in combating illegal drugs?

A: Without question, the sheriff’s office, as any police organization, has the responsibility, by job description, to investigate any criminal activity in our area. It will definitely be a priority of the sheriff’s office, to work against any trafficking of narcotics, so as to protect our citizens, and specifically, our youth.

 

Q: What would you do to improve training and education for sheriff’s deputies?

A: Training, in any profession, is not only needed but should be required, in order for the officer to be able to perform his duties and fulfill his responsibilities in a professional manner. Training and development is of utmost importance so that the police officer can trust in himself to perform his duties competently. As sheriff, I will be responsible and will see to the development, and help in this development, so that we can have a sheriff’s office that is completely able to perform its duties, as is not only required by law but also to meet the needs of our citizens.

 

Q:What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: My experience and education.  I have an associate’s degree in law enforcement.  My total dedication to law enforcement and the service to the citizens of Quay County and my desire to deliver professional service with integrity.

 

 

 

 

 

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