Public Safety

  • County responds to suit

    Los Alamos County released a statement Friday morning concerning the lawsuit filed by two former LAPD commanders and a current detective.
    The county claims as of Thursday afternoon that it still had not been served the lawsuit.
    In the statement, county administrator Harry Burgess said, “late Wednesday afternoon we were notified by media that the law office of George Geran chose to release to them a lawsuit supposedly filed against the county by three current/former LAPD officers.
    “I would like to state that the majority of the allegations being made were investigated at the time and decisions were made based upon the conclusions presented. There are several allegations in the documents that were not previously presented to the county, and the county will be following up on those items to determine an appropriate course of action, if necessary.

  • Cops sue county

     Two former commanders of the Los Alamos Police Department and a current detective filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Los Alamos County in district court Wednesday, alleging wrongful discharge, retaliation and gender discrimination.
    The suit was filed by Santa Fe attorneys George Geran and Linda Hemphill, who represent Randy Foster, Scott Mills and Paige Early. The suit contends that the county failed to address a “real and imminent threat caused by a fellow police officer Brian Schamber.
    “After bringing the matter of Schamber’s erratic and alarming behavior to the attention of county officials including county administrator Harry Burgess and former police chief Wayne Torpy, plaintiffs Foster and Mills lost their jobs and Plaintiff Early was injured and systematically discriminated against as a result of the county’s failure to address Schamber’s threats to her and retaliated against when she complained about Schamber.”
    Schamber, meanwhile, also filed suit against the county and settled for $600,000.
    Schamber contended in his suit that then-commanders Mills and Foster allegedly harassed him and tried to sabotage his law enforcement career in an attempt to eliminate him as a possible candidate to replace Torpy.

  • Fire danger high during winter months

    SANTA FE ­­­— Wildfire danger levels are higher across parts of New Mexico right now, thanks to mild temperatures, dry conditions and gusty winds. The potential for fire is especially high in eastern and southeastern parts of the state where the lack of moisture is drying out fine, grassy fuels, according to New Mexico State Forestry Fire Prevention and Outreach Program Manager Dan Ware.
    State Forestry officials are warning residents and visitors to use caution with any use of fire and to do their part in preventing wildfires.
    Abundant seasonal rainfall during the recent monsoon season caused the rapid growth of grass and brush in New Mexico. With dry conditions across much of the state so far this winter, fuels are drying out and susceptible to fire.
    State Forestry officials emphasize the following precautions and measures to help residents and visitors prepare for and prevent wildfires:
    • When traveling by auto, only pull over into developed areas, such as rest stops, to prevent heat from catalytic converters or exhaust emissions from sparking fires in roadside grass.
    • Never walk away from a burning or smoldering campfire. Use water and dirt to kill the fire. The ground should be cold to the touch before it is safe to leave.

  • Police Beat 01-10-14

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, server a court summons, or issued a citation.
    Jan. 2

    4:38 p.m. — John Halladay, 41, of Los Alamos, was arrested on a charge of encouraging violation of bail or probation in the 4700 block of Yucca Street.
    Jan. 3

    2:11 a.m. — Andrea Rivera, 26, of Los Alamos was arrested through a magistrate court bench warrant in the 2000 block of 42nd Street.

    1:50 a.m. — Gary Bobo, 42, of Los Alamos was arrested on a charge of battery against a household member in the 2000 block of 42nd Street.

    Jan. 5

    12:04 a.m. — Gabriel Wadt, 24, of Los Alamos was arrested on a charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated in the 600 block of Trinity Drive. Police said he had a blood alcohol level of .16 or more.

    12:32 a.m. and 9:35 p.m. — Lukas Lucero, 23, of Los Alamos was arrested two times on Jan. 5. The first time was for battery upon a peace officer in the 600 block of Trinity Drive. The second arrest was for assault at the Los Alamos Justice Center.
    Jan. 6

  • Dog tests positive for drugs

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A New Mexico woman whose dog tested positive for cocaine and marijuana is fighting to get the canine back after surrendering the Labrador retriever because of a $2,000 vet bill.
    The Albuquerque Journal reports 1-year-old Maddie showed “strong positive cocaine” and active marijuana traces in urine tests conducted this week by an Albuquerque clinic.
    A clinic report says veterinarians saw the dog twitching, shaking and walking with poor balance after owner Arlene Saiz brought her in.
    The report says because Saiz couldn’t pay the vet bill, she signed the dog over to the city Animal Welfare Department. City officials said police found no evidence to file charges against Saiz, who said she doesn’t know how the animal consumed the drugs.

  • Vandalism investigated

    Police are investigating vandalism that occurred to a storage shed at the North Mesa Stables. Someone had smashed in the shed windows. If you have information about the incident, contact the Los Alamos Police Department at 662-8222.

  • Couple charged with child abuse

    A Los Alamos couple was recently arrested and charged with allegedly abandoning or abusing their 10-week-old son.
    The accused, Kayla Dick, 19, and Troy Stephenson, 27, were arrested Dec. 24 shortly after they took the baby in for a medical evaluation at the Los Alamos Medical Center.
    They were both charged with one count each of abandonment or abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.
    According to court documents, Dr. Michelle Whitford, the on-duty emergency room doctor at the time reported the couple to the police, notifying them the infant had sustained an injury that in her opinion, could only have happened through intentional abuse.
    The parents took the baby to the emergency room because he seemed to be in a large amount of pain. Whitford examined the leg and found that (the baby) had a spiral fracture to his femur.
    “Dr. Whitford stated that a spiral fracture to a femur would be the result of an extremely strong impact or torque, which could only be caused by abusing the child,” said a statement in the court document.
    When questioned about the incident, both Dick and Stephenson accused the other. Dick told a child welfare official at the scene that she was staying with Stephenson and their baby at a nearby hotel while her house was getting worked on.

  • Police Beat 01-03-14

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt.
    The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    Dec. 27

    1:23 a.m. — Edward Emerson, 81, of Los Alamos was arrested for driving while intoxicated at 39th Street and Diamond Drive.

    5:24 p.m. — A 61-year-old Los Alamos man reported to police he was the victim of harassment on East Jemez Road.

    Dec. 28
    4:45 p.m. — Troy Stephenson, 27, of Los Alamos was arrested through a magistrate court warrant at 2500 Trinity.

    5:28 p.m. — Kayla Dick, 19, of Los Alamos was arrested through a magistrate court warrant at 2500 Trinity.

    Dec. 30

    3:17 p.m. — William Vonharders, 37, of Los Alamos was arrested through a municipal court warrant at 535 Central Ave.

    11:15 p.m. — Krista Wilhelm, 28 of Los Alamos was arrested through a magistrate bench warrant in Santa Fe.

    Dec. 31

    4 p.m. — Craig Blackheart, 32, of Los Alamos was issued a summons for battery against a household member at 2500 Trinity.

  • New title for Hughes another step in raising LAFD's stature

    The year 2013 turned out to be a pretty good year for Los Alamos Fire Chief Troy Hughes.
    This year, he achieved a milestone in his career that few fire chiefs do. In December, he was awarded the status of “Chief Fire Officer” by a commission within the Center for Public Safety Excellence, the same organization the fire department has received its accreditation from.
    According to a press release from Los Alamos County, Hughes has joined a rare group, as there are only 944 CFOs worldwide.
    Chiefs are awarded the CFO designation through lengthy reviews of their careers, and it’s something firefighters have to focus on achieving through community involvement, education, professional experience and the professional development of the fire companies they lead.
    Hughes said he focused on achieving the professional goal 15 years ago, when he was a chief with Nebraska’s Grand Island Fire Department.
    Hughes became chief of that department during his last three years there before moving on to the Los Alamos Fire Department.
    “It’s a long process. They look at your whole body of work, Hughes said. “It’s not something you can get on day one of being a chief; it takes a while.”

  • Top public safety stories of 2013

    The Los Alamos Monitor looks at the top public safety stories of 2013 in no particular order.
    Thompson Ridge Fire
    For residents living in the bucolic Jemez Mountains, June turned out to be a pretty exciting month as a small wildfire quickly got out of hand. The fire, which officials dubbed the “Thompson Ridge Fire,” started when a downed power line ignited some brush on Elk Trail. The fire spread to 25,000 acres, coming within yards of the Forest Service’s headquarters in the Valles Caldera before it was stopped. No deaths, property damage or injuries were reported, but some neighborhoods were temporarily evacuated as firefighters struggled to get the fire under control.