More jurisdiction for some LAPD officers

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By Jennifer Garcia

Those traversing N.M. 502 and other outlying parts of Santa Fe County, as if driving on the Autobahn, should know that the Los Alamos Police Department and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department have struck a deal that will allow Los Alamos police officers to be cross-commissioned through Santa Fe County.

This spells bad news for speeders, as LAPD officers will now be able to cite traffic offenders who are caught in those parts of Santa Fe County, which lie closest to Los Alamos.

On the other hand, accidents occurring on N.M. 502 should be cleaned up quicker and traffic congestion should be minimal during such an event.

During the County Council meeting Tuesday night in White Rock, Police Chief Wayne Torpy and Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano presented an agreement to council which would cross-commission Los Alamos Police Department personnel for limited law enforcement authority to help alleviate problems caused by accidents.

According to the agreement presented to council, for many years Los Alamos emergency personnel have responded to motor vehicle accidents and other minor incidents within Santa Fe County, specifically on N.M. 4 between Los Alamos and White Rock; N.M. 502; and N.M. 501 between N.M. 4 and the Los Alamos County line.

The response time for Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department personnel to these outlying areas of Santa Fe County contributes to the traffic congestion problems caused by these accidents.

In many cases, the Los Alamos Police Department could have investigated and cleared the accidents before Santa Fe County units could arrive on the scene.

Torpy was pleased with the decision made by Sheriff Solano.

“When you get other law enforcement agencies extending powers to others, it says a lot, Torpy said. “I’d like to thank him (Sheriff Solano) for helping us solve problems that have plagued Los Alamos County for a long time.”

Solano agrees that cross commissioning is the way to alleviate problems in outlying parts of Santa Fe County.

“It’s great that we’re doing this. Foremost is serving the public. It doesn’t serve the public if they have to wait for officers.”

He said that Santa Fe County has cross-commissioned officers in Torrance and Sandoval counties, as well as Tesuque Tribal officers, since those counties and the Pueblo of Tesuque surround Santa Fe County.

During the council meeting, Council Vice Chair Robert Gibson asked Torpy approximately how many accidents occur in the outlying parts of Santa Fe County per year.

“There’s no exact number, but there’s no less than two or three a month. It’s frequent enough to cause inconvenience,” Torpy said.

Councilor Ken Milder asked Solano if the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would cross over if a new sheriff took over.

“No, but MOUs are renewed as a matter of course,” Solano said. “I still have about two more years on my contract, so we’re safe for about two years.”

Torpy said both his staff and the sheriff’s staff have been working together to deputize officers for specific issues. He said they have also worked out the details as to which offenders can be booked into the Los Alamos County Detention Facility and which offenders can be booked into the Santa Fe County Detention Facility.