Mayor Ravi Bhasker made official the appointment of Assistant Police Chief Angel Garcia to the position of Chief of Police at last week’s city council meeting. Garcia succeeds Mike Winders who is retiring at the end of the month after just shy of 25 years with the department.
Bhasker named Kenneth Greenwood as Assistant Chief.
“I’ve spoken to both of them,” Bhasker said. “They both have different skills they bring to the Police Department. Mr. Garcia brings his knowledge of the street and the people in town. And is on top of all problem areas, really.”
He said Greenwood is an asset to the force and has shown to be on top of the department’s paperwork.
“He does a lot of the paperwork and we depend on him to do the quality control on the police reports,” Bhasker said. “And that’s a big, big job.”
In an interview after the meeting, Garcia said he was ready to get started as Chief of Police.
“You know, I’ve been with the Socorro Police Department going on almost 24 years,” he said. “I think we have a great group of guys and am looking forward to adding a few more people. We are hiring.”
Garcia entered the force as a patrolman in 1998.
“From being a patrolman I went to the detective division for a few years, and after that became a detective,” he said. “As a detective, I went to narcotics investigation as a sergeant and was in narcotics for quite some time.”
His next promotion was to Captain, and eight years ago was promoted to Assistant Chief, under Mike Winders.
“As long as Mike’s been chief, except for four or five months, I was his Assistant Chief for all that time,” Garcia said. “Mike has done a fantastic job. I’ve got big shoes to fill. We will continue to keep moving in the right direction, working hard for the citizens of Socorro.”
He said the biggest challenges law enforcement faces in Socorro are drugs and burglaries.
“What goes along with drugs are burglaries. The addicts have to fulfill their needs,” he said. “I think a lot of larcenies are connected to that. Money for drugs. And violent crimes come from that as well.”
Garcia said he is committed to working hand-in-hand with officers and being proactive in the community.
“Our priority is our citizens. The ones we work for, our community,” he said. “I want us to be a bit more interactive with the community. Whether it’s going to the senior centers or going to parks to keep our visibility with the public. Especially in these times we’re going through right now. I think we need to be seen more as a positive element.”
In that regard, Gracia said he hopes to work closely with the public.
“I want everyone to know they can speak to me on any concerns they have in their neighborhood or just want to give us some information. I’m always available,” he said. “Let us know if you see something that looks wrong. Be vigilant. Something may not seem like it’s important, but every little bit of information may help us.”
Garcia succeeds Socorro-born-and-raised Mike Winders, who joined the department in 1997 working as a part-time dispatcher. He became a patrolman the following year and worked his way through the ranks to become Chief of Police in 2014.
In other business the council:
- Approved the reading of Ordinance 22-09-19, authorizing the sale of city property to Western New Mexico Communications of Silver City. “Western New Mexico wants to put their building in the industrial park, and they’re planning to put in a hub out of which they can run fiber,” Bhasker said. “I think their first project will be to run fiber out of there from Socorro up to Tech, over the mountain and all the way down, almost close to the border.” He said WNM is aware that the city is working with TDS to provide internet service throughout the city, “but they’re working to get out into the county area.”
- Approved a resolution to accept a grant to start work on repairing the EMRTC bridge on East Road. The total project cost is $350,000, with the City responsible for five percent, or $17,500.
- Approved a resolution to accept a grant for the New Mexico Department of Transportation to improve portions of Manzanares Avenue. The total project cost is $610,180, with the City responsible for five percent, or $30,509.
- Voted to add Sixth Street and Bullock drainage improvements to the ICIP. “People are familiar with the lake on Bullock. Well, the Bullock Lake is going to go away,” Bhasker said. “We do have a pump for that, but the pump has not been installed, because we couldn’t get transformers, couldn’t get equipment. It’s just been horrible.” He said If the pump had been operating it would’ve drained. “However, that drained water has to be treated to grass in a retention pond before we put it into the conservancy ditches,” he said. “We have a five-year abeyance from the conservancy. But now we have to start looking to get this designed. So that’s why we need to put it on the ICIP.”
- Discussed changing city council meeting days from Mondays to Tuesdays.