Public officials poised to host crime forum

PNT staff report

Prosecutors and elected officials in Roosevelt County and Portales want to take the public’s temperature on crime.

They plan to do that with a public forum at 5:30 p.m. today at Portales City Hall.

“We’re just trying to get out there and see what the community’s concerns are and how we can address those concerns,” said Steve North of the District Attorney’s Office, which is organizing the event.

Officials expected to attend are Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill, New Mexico State Police Capt. Dan Lopez, Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker, Portales City Manager Debi Lee, Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, Roosevelt County Commissioner Dennis Lopez and District Attorney Matt Chandler.

North said public input is one element of so-called “community policing.” While none of the agencies operating in Roosevelt County have moved to formally adopt community policing, North said it’s important to get public feedback.

Chandler said he hopes that law enforcement receives feedback from citizens that will assist in reducing criminal activities such as narcotics, graffiti and gangs.

“Under the concept of community prosecution and community policing, public input is a must in identifying and solving community crime-related problems,” Chander said. “A key ingredient to making our communities a safer place is to build strong working relationships between law enforcement, civic officials and our community members.”

Hooker said it isn’t feasible for his office to adopt all the components of community policing, but he’s studied it and is adopting what works for his agency.

“The intent is to have all law enforcement agencies in our county out there in the public’s eye,” Hooker said. “I strongly advocate the public forum as a way to find out from the public what kind of job we’re doing.”