Sheriff Duties Can Be Handled By Police Department

This is a graph showing the processes of service requests for the first seven months of this year for the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office. Courresy image

By RICK REISS
Los Alamos

If you are concerned about the ability and capacity of the Police Department to handle the work done by the Sheriff’s department, please consider the actual statistics and volume of work performed by the Sheriff department.

The Sheriff was formerly required to provide service of process for the courts. During the many terms of current and past Sheriffs, there has not been a significant amount of reporting regarding their work on behalf of the citizens of Los Alamos. In fact, the Council was concerned about how much work would be reassigned to the Police Department especially since no one knew how much work was being done. Former Undersheriff Horne indicated in the recent League of Women Voter’s forum that the Sheriff had served upwards of 150 processes in a month. That would be a lot – if it were true.

With a high of 18 in April, it seems there are less than four per week on average. I think the Police Department can handle that, and we now have statistics to help us better understand the work load now that a more transparent department is handling the effort.

What about the Sex Offender Registry? There are 12 offenders on the Offender Registry. Of those, two are currently incarcerated in the Police Department’s Detention Center – the Police certainly know where those 2 are!  Five of the 12 have been on the list for over 10 years. That seems to indicate they are not moving around and generating much activity. Four were added to the list in 2016 and 1 was added in 2015. 

The County employs an Office Specialist that updates the records on the Offender Registry. The Office Specialist receives notices from Probation Officers, Department of Public Safety, prisons where offenders are being released and other states when an offender indicates they will relocate to New Mexico. The Office Specialist records that information in the computer systems including the Offender Watch system. The Office Specialist also interviews the offenders when they are required to report to law enforcement and updates the records accordingly. That information is communicated to the police officers in Los Alamos.

It is true the Sheriff visits and monitors the location of the offenders. However, a large part of the effort is handled administratively. The Police Department already has access to the systems and houses a few of the offenders in the detention center. The Police Department can efficiently undertake this duty when the Sheriff’s office is abolished. Contact information with the Probation Officers, Department of Public Safety, judges and courts can be updated to reflect the Police Department has assumed the Sheriff duties during the 2 year transition period when the Charter Amendment is approved. We can even post a sign that indicates sex offenders registration is with the Police Department!

Vote FOR Question 1.

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