County could see deputy shortage

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Roosevelt County may soon have a shortage of sheriff’s deputies.

Sheriff’s department Sgt. Richard Short told county commissioners on Tuesday the department is about to lose a couple of deputies to duties with the National Guard. He said one deputy has reported for duty and will be gone until Aug. 8 and another deputy will have to report on Aug. 15.

He said the sheriff’s office has 10 deputy positions but could have only six active in a few months.

“In the past, commissioners have allowed us to hire a part-time deputy,” Short said. “I don’t think that someone who is certified is going to want to work for only three or six months. We are having trouble filling (a) full-time position as it is.”

Short asked for commissioners ideas on solving the potential shortage.

Also Tuesday:

• Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera asked for and received approval from commissioners for $500 to fund a study from the New Mexico Institute of Social Research.

Luera said New Mexico Association of Counties’ officials are trying to come up with statistical information on the rising costs of holding inmates. He said they are requesting money to fund the research from all 33 New Mexico counties. Luera said the plan is to have the statistical information in time for the 2005 legislative session.
“It’s one stepping stone toward a successful state legislation hearing,” Luera said. “We want to make sure this goes through. Let’s get it done. We can’t just stand by and do nothing.”

Luera said the Roosevelt County inmate population is at 56.

• Commissioners denied a request to assist a Roswell agency working with a Roosevelt County substance-abuse patient.

Vicki Aguilar, Roosevelt County’s indigent administrator, said she received the request from an official from the New Mexico Rehabilitation Center of Roswell.

“They wanted to know if we would pay for a claim from one of their patients,” Aguilar said. “In our policy, it states we will not pay for a self-inflicted injury or illness. They said their funding was cut and they wanted to know if we could help them.”

Aguilar said she has heard the cost could be up to $350 a day and the program could last up to 30 days.

“We’re not against people with a substance-abuse problem,” Roosevelt County Commissioner Dennis Lopez said. “I believe there are a vast majority of options out there for those suffering from substance abuse.”