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Gov. Bill Richardson announced an increased law enforcement presence along the state border with Mexico, while police in Arizona investigate the shooting death of an Arizona rancher near the Mexico-Arizona border.
Richardson directed New Mexico Homeland Security and Emergency Management Secretary John Wheeler to coordinate the state’s law enforcement response to the shooting.
Wheeler was in a cabinet meeting with the governor this morning but his public information officer, Beverly Allen, said the order came down very quickly and the New Mexico Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department is coordinating the increased law enforcement presence with state police and local law enforcement.
Allen added that Secretary Wheeler issued a statement saying, “A beefed up police presence has a couple of effects including a reassuring effect for people and a deterrent as well.”
Richardson stated in his news release that the New Mexico State Police and local sheriff’s departments have increased patrols in all areas along the border.
The U.S. Border Patrol also stepped up its presence along the border, Richardson said.
The State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is also coordinating all intelligence-gathering efforts and sharing information as quickly as possible with state, federal and local law enforcement agencies, he said.
Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy explained this morning that Los Alamos is not affected by the violence spilling into the U.S. from Mexico because of its relative distance from the border.
“Los Alamos has very few illegal immigrant problems and whenever we’ve had an incident or suspicion we contact the U.S. Border Patrol/DHS and they take over the investigation,” Torpy said.
Richardson indicated in his release that protecting citizens, property and communities in New Mexico is everyone’s responsibility.
“While we have invested money in local law enforcement along the border, we must continue to be on guard against drug-related violence on the Mexican side of the border,” he said.
Richardson in 2005 declared a state of emergency along the New Mexico-Mexico border as a result of border-related violence. Because of that emergency declaration, border communities were able to pay for additional law enforcement.
The emergency also led to the creation of a field office for the State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Las Cruces.