Sheriff and deputies not allowed to make DWI arrests
Posted at: 09/18/2012 9:28 PM
| Updated at: 09/18/2012 10:20 PM
By: Joe Vigil, KOB Eyewitness News 4
One might think it would certainly make the DWI fight a lot tougher. KOB Eyewitness News 4 has been told that the entire Mora County Sheriff's Department cannot make DWI arrests right now.
"Now State Police is kind of patrolling a little bit more in Mora County. And they're kind of taking over those particular cases," Mora County Manager Thomas Sanchez told KOB Eyewitness News 4 Tuesday.
The Law Enforcement Academy Board suspended Mora County Sheriff Thomas Garza's Police Certification after an incident where the sheriff argued with a deputy over an alleged drunk driving incident. Sheriff Garza is heard on tape wanting to release a DWI suspect who was his friend.
The sheriff remains on desk duty until his certification suspension is lifted in November. The county manager said four Mora County deputies are not certified. He said because no one on the force is currently certified, deputies and the sheriff are not allowed to make DWI arrests.
Sanchez said deputies can pull over DWI suspects, but New Mexico State Police will have to be called to make the arrest. State police said they will do what is necessary to get the work done in Mora County.
Sheriff Garza would not discuss his certification suspension, but said there are ongoing discussions about getting more certified deputies on the force. He says two deputies are going through the academy this fall and winter to get their certification.
He also said there has been some talk about requiring certified deputies to stay with Mora County for two years or they would have to pay back the costs of sending them to academy.
"We've had experiences where we've sent individuals from Mora County to get certified. And upon graduation they're picked up by another entity even though Mora County footed the bill for them to attend the academy," Sanchez said.
KOB was also told there has been discussion about eliminating a vacant deputy position to boost the pay of other deputies. Certified Mora County deputies make just $12 an hour. A deputy who is not certified makes $10 an hour.