By Tony Parra
Burglary crimes are up 27 percent in 2004 from 2003 in Roosevelt County, according a recently released report from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department.
The report showed an increase of burglaries from 41 in 2003 to 56 in 2004. Tom Gossett, Roosevelt County Sheriff, said there was a $32,000 burglary spike in a two-week span in December.
Gossett said the main reason is because of the lack of deputies. The department is currently staffed with five deputies, Gossett and Sergeant Rick Short. Gossett said a fully-staffed RCSD would have 10 deputies, Gossett and Short.
The number of drug offenses plummeted 38 percent from 42 in 2003 to 16 in 2004, however, Gossett said that doesn’t mean people have stopped doing drugs it means the inability to patrol the county more often has hindered the drug offenses’ count.
“We haven’t been able to patrol some areas as often as we would like,” Gossett said. “The natural thing is the more patrol you have the more people will know not to do it with our presence.”
Sheriff Tom Gossett is in his third year as the Roosevelt County Sheriff and lost seven deputies during 2004, according to the report. One of the department’s losses was Waylon Rains, who had 107 offense reports and 80 arrests. The next closest deputy was Natalie Schumpert, who had 81 offense reports and 39 arrests.
Gossett said Rains applied for and received a position in the Clovis Police Department because of the pay. A RCSD deputy makes $12.80 an hour while a CPD officer makes $15.45, the minimum salary approved by the city for an officer with one year experience.
County commissioners have said that budget constraints have not allowed them to make the pay increases to $15.45 like the CPD and Curry County Sheriff Department officials have.
County Commissioner Dennis Lopez said on Friday that he was going to be in Santa Fe Saturday and today, talking to legislatures about funding for the law enforcement in Roosevelt County. Lopez said he will also be looking to be updated on capital outlay funding and where it stands from legislators such as Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, Rep. Jose A. Campos II, D-Santa Rosa and Rep. Keith Gardner (R-Roswell).
“I will be talking to them about this specific legislative priority,” Lopez said. “Based on need, there is a dire need each year for funding for law enforcement.”
Other legislative priorities for the county, Lopez said, are road funding and road equipment funding.
Clovis police have cut vacancies in half since city officials approved a pay increase in November, Police Chief Bill Carey said in Thursday’s Clovis-News Journal.
Carey said the police department is looking to fill seven vacancies; about three months ago, the department had 15 vacancies.
Gossett said the RCSD is looking to fill three vacancies and continues to advertise the positions. According to the report, nine of the department’s 17 vehicles have 100,000 miles or more as well. Gossett said this brings up concerns for the safety of deputies and county residents.