Sheriff’s department shorthanded

By Tony Parra

With one deputy gone to the academy and another deputy injured and currently not on duty, a shortage has forced the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department to request help from the New Mexico State Police Department and the Portales Police Department to cover their night shifts.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Rick Short updated the commissioners on Tuesday morning during the commission meeting of the situation. Short said he has received 11 applications to fill the deputy positions, but none of the applicants are certified.
The department currently has seven employees — five deputies, Sheriff Tom Gossett and Short. A normal staff would be nine deputies, the sheriff and the sergeant, according to Short. The department is down to four deputies since the loss of one deputy to a work-related injury to his leg last week.
Short said even if any deputies are hired this month it will take a year for them to be a certified deputy. He said the six-month training session for law enforcement will start on Monday in Hobbs and the next six-month training session won’t start until January. He said after a deputy is hired, the deputy has to spend some time on-duty with a certified deputy on patrol before they go to the six-month training.
Short brought up the denial of a new retirement plan in hurting the recruitment process for new deputies. The commissioners denied a proposed 20-year retirement plan for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department deputies during the June 7 county meeting.
“That’s a moot issue at this time,” Dennis Lopez, county commissioner, said. “It’s not in the best interest of this county (to not have a night shift). There’s alternatives, such as split shifts.”
The deputies currently have a 25-year retirement plan. The commissioners denied the proposed plan due to budgetary reasons — it would have approximately a $12,000 impact on the county budget.
“I would entertain a meeting with the commissioners to come up with a better solution,” Short said.
In other business as the meeting, the commissioners approveda resolution to an agreement approving participation in the programs of the Eastern Plains Council of Government for fiscal year 2005-06. The vote was 4-1, with Tom Clark as the lone dissenter.
The county pays an annual fee of $3,010 to be a member of the EPCOG. The EPCOG provides services and programs to help home owners and housing developments. The EPCOG representatives help in lobbying and bringing in money from grants to Roosevelt County.