State new-hire screening needs improvement

It’s puzzling that legislative security officials would think a former State Police officer whose police license was revoked and who as a sheriff’s deputy was the subject of an internal investigation after getting into a drunken brawl at a casino would be the right fit as a security guard at the state Capitol.

However, Algin Mendez, who is embroiled in an ongoing beef with state Rep. Debbie Rodella and her husband, Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella, was hired for the Senate security detail for the current legislative session.

Rep. Rodella says she is afraid of Mendez. She alleges he intimidated her during a recent legislative committee meeting and that last fall he accosted her and her husband at a dance in Espanola.

Last week, she went to court to get a restraining order against Mendez. KOAT-TV reported that Mendez had resigned from the security detail.

Sheriff Rodella had placed Mendez on paid administrative leave in 2011 after a surveillance video showed an off duty Mendez brawling and head-butting another man at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in Pojoaque and after he allegedly had violated terms of discipline imposed by the state Law Enforcement Academy Board in another matter.

Mendez quit his deputy’s job before the internal affairs investigation was completed.

Intimidation and personal vendettas have no place in the halls of state government. Lawmakers should be able to do their duly elected jobs without fearing for their safety. State security officials need to do a better job of screening new hires than this.

— Albuquerque Journal

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