By Alisa Boswell
CMI staff writer
Interim Portales Police Chief Pat Gallegos and City Manager Doug Redmond introduced the Portales Police Department’s two newest staff members at Tuesday’s Portales City Council meeting.
Daniel Narvaez and Calvin Tayler graduated from the Farmington Police Academy the end of September and have been in field training since, according to Gallegos, who said the officers will soon be finished with field training and will be on their own.
He said Narvaez was valedictorian of his academy class while Tayler was “top shot,” meaning he was the best with firearms.
“Right now, we’re trying to attract local men and women to get them to apply,” Gallegos said.
He said the department is trying to come up with strategies to attract more certified officers to the department.
“All of the (law enforcement) agencies have a high demand and larger agencies have the incentives to attract already certified officers.”
Gallegos said the Hobbs Police Department is offering a $25,000 sign-on bonus after five years for certified officers that includes $15,000 relocation assistance, an incentive that smaller departments, such as Portales, can’t compete with.
“I can’t say that we’ll ever be fully staffed,” Redmond said. “(But) it’s a step in the right direction.”
Gallegos and Redmond said two more officers will be sent to the Santa Fe police academy in January 2014 and applications for uncertified officers will close in December, so that any other uncertified officers hired can attend the June academy.
Gallegos said it takes six to eight months to process all of the paperwork and complete background checks for new hires.
He said with the four new officers, the department still has officer positions open and applications for certified officers will remain open until the department is fully staffed. Uncertified applications will not re-open until late next year if officers are needed.
As for the Portales police chief position, Redmond said the city will continue to evaluate Gallegos as acting chief for another month before making a decision on whether to open the position or not.
“I see a lot more positive outlook and when I go visit the (police) department, I see a night and day difference from how it was when I first started as city manager,” Redmond said. “And other department heads have expressed appreciation for how easy it is to work with Pat.”