Sheriff expresses concern

Tony Parra

Roosevelt County Sheriff Tom Gossett expressed several concerns at Tuesday’s Roosevelt County Commission meeting, from a shortage in police escorts for females to computer problems to the use of $4,000 confiscated from an inmate who was selling marijuana in jail over the summer.
Currently, inmate guardians escorting inmates to other facilities get paid minimum wage, almost $4 less an hour than what they typically make.
“We can’t find anybody to escort the inmates for minimum wage,” Gossett explained. “I have to pay people more to get someone to go. (Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator) Jesse (Luera) supplies us with people, but an incident came up in which he offered one of his employees on duty, but why should they have to take a reduction in pay.”
County officials said transporting inmates is supposed to be voluntary, and when reassigning duties for less pay, Gossett must make up the monetary difference from the budget.
“In case of an emergency, you have the authority to hire at any level to transport inmates,” Tom Clark, county commissioner, said.
Roosevelt County sheriff’s officials are also concerned in the cases of transporting females.
“I want to be able to send a female police escort,” Gossett said. “I want to have two officers go when they transport. I don’t want to send only male escorts because that leaves the door open to liability issues, like allegations.”
“From now on the sheriff’s department or detention center will make up the difference from their budget,” Hardin said. “There was a lack of communication from both departments (county administrator’s and sheriffs office).”
In another issue, Gossett would like to use the $4,000 of confiscated money for drug intervention (informants) instead of drug rehabilitation programs.
New Mexico code states the money must go toward rehabilitation, Gossett said.
Gossett said he would like to spend the money to help nab drug dealers delivering to Roosevelt County from Texas.
The sheriff’s office would also like to update their computer programs, hardware and software. The computer systems are not compatible with the computer systems for the Portales Police Department, Gossett said.
“We’re exploring everything we can (to come up with the money to replace the computer systems),” Gossett said. “We are looking into grant money for the cost. It’s going to cost $35,000 for a new computer system that will be compatible with the Portales Police Department.”
Commission members also advised Gossett that if nothing can be allocated from grants, they can look into other options.
“If you run into a dead end (in exploring for grants),” Dennis Lopez, commission member, explained. “We can list it on our legislative priorities and lobby for it with our legislators.”