LAPD wraps up pivotal year

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Department changes include remodeled station, 911 consolidation and state accreditation

By Carol A. Clark

Calling it one of the proudest moments in his law enforcement career, Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy accepted state accreditation for his department during a special ceremony in Taos. In July, LAPD passed all 217 standards required for accreditation and became the first New Mexico county to earn such designation.
The police department and jail renovation project also was completed this year, bringing both into compliance with state regulations.
Another milestone accomplished in 2010 was the consolidation of police and fire dispatch operations, which moved from a facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory into the newly remodeled police station.
After taking over as police chief six years ago, Torpy developed a succession plan for his department. In October, he promoted five officers to senior positions, following a round of extensive testing. Sergeants Jason Herrera and Preston Ballew were promoted to lieutenants. Corporals Monica Salazar, James Rodriguez and Oliver Morris were promoted to sergeants.
“These officers really are the next generation of leadership for this department,” Torpy said at the time.
In an effort to keep prescription drugs off the streets, LAPD held its first “take-back drug campaign” in front of Los Alamos Medical Center in September. The public turned in enough unused and expired prescription drugs to fill a container that measured a foot and a half tall by a foot deep and a foot wide.
Crime and tragedy were no strangers to Los Alamos this year. Piloting his own plane, county employee Gary Cavasos, 54, died after his plane crashed in Arizona in June.  
Infant Grey Vigil died when he was just 10 days old. The district attorney’s office is still reviewing police findings in the case in which his mother, Katrina Vigil, 25, was investigated for allegedly giving birth at her parent’s home, then leaving the infant in a closet for three days.
Police are awaiting toxicology results to determine if charges will be filed in the case of Miranda Martinez, 29, of Velarde who died in a head-on collision on East Jemez Road Aug. 20.
Det. Shari Mills, 53, tendered her resignation with LAPD in September and entered a treatment program. She had been on paid administrative leave following a burglary at the home of her ex-husband, former LAPD Lt. Scott Mills in June.
In another case, local detectives collaborated with agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which resulted in the arrest of a man on a multitude of narcotics-related charges. Randy Branch, 21, of Rio Arriba County was arraigned on 19 counts including unlawful use of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, health care fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge and aggravated identity theft.
In October, police apprehended smash and grab suspects Aaron Roybal and Nathan Zamora at Anderson Overlook. Delbert Roybal was captured a short time later at Smith’s on Central Avenue. The men were suspected of involvement in a series of thefts plaguing local automobiles.
Police also captured a man dubbed the “ninja burglar” for reportedly donning a hood and black clothing and wielding an axe in the course of an alleged burglary in Santa Fe. Shalom Katz, 17, was captured in October on 9th Street following an anonymous tip.
The excitement of 2010 wrapped up with Torpy breaking up a road rage incident. While driving along N.M. 4, he came upon a truck parked in the middle of the highway and the driver standing nearby wielding a 3-foot-long metal jack handle in the air at a man clutching a bicycle in front of himself in a protective manner. Truck driver Anthony Martinez, 45, of El Prado was arrested at the scene and charged with aggravated assault.