The need for more law enforcement officers is real.
Last week Socorro County Commissioners learned Socorro County now is down four deputy positions after losing another only a week ago.
Sheriff Lee Armijo told the board it’s getting harder and harder to recruit. “There was a time, when an opening would draw four to six candidates,” he said. “Now we have three people maybe apply … and no one shows up for the interview.”
It’s time Armijo said to begin looking outside of Socorro County to recruit. Adding to the recruitment process is the fact most Sheriff’s Departments in the state are battling the same problem.
With huge incentives and pay raises being offered by larger more affluent counties and the state patrol considering offering starting pay at $38 an hour, Armijo is hoping the commissioners will look at some options.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” Armijo said. “It’s something that I’d like for you guys (commissioners) to think about what we can do to hire get capable law enforcement … and keep them in the community.”
Armijo said the sheriff’s office has a good base “We have smart guys that are making good decisions. They have a lot to share with people and keep the peace.”
Keeping the peace comes at a price. “There’s going come a time when I’m going to have to – probably sooner rather than later – come and ask you to give our officers a more competitive wage.”
A lot bigger places are getting paid, according to Armjo, some good money. “I lost one of the best cops I’ve ever worked with in my life. He’s making $50 an hour. How do you compete with that when we’re offering way, way less?” asked Armijo.
In other county business:
• Commissioners tabled a decision until they have time to review a pricing restructure for solid waste convenience centers.
• Met with Al Sandoval to approve the Abeytas/Sabinal Special zoning district.
• Received a report from the Socorro County Detention Center for the month of November. Average daily inmate population was 71 and the highest inmate daily count was 77. Average amount of meals served per day was 213. Plus 250 plus individual medications were distributed daily. There were 23 medical transports from Socorro to Albuquerque for the month with total transport hours clocking in at 74.75 hours.
• Socorro County Detention Center reported the implementation of The New Mexico Just Health Program is now in full affects. They just started using the program to help assist those who enter the facility without Medicaid. Once enrolled in Medicaid, the detainee can utilize Medicaid to pay for any medical treatment, including prescriptions during the first 30 days of incarceration. Also, if a detainee were to need an overnight stay Medicaid would cover the costs after the first 30 days under STMI.
• Approved an agreement with PHI Cares for membership for the county. PHI is an air ambulance company that provides emergency air medical transportation on PHI aircraft. The PHI membership for Socorro County covers the uninsured or otherwise uncovered portion of the flight charges that may be incurred by residents requiring emergency air medical transportation.