Tom Sharpe, The New Mexican (Santa Fe), May 16, 2007
The Santa Fe Police Department is looking at the possibility of recruiting Mexican nationals to fill vacancies on the city police force, say sergeants in charge of training and recruiting.
Sgts. Gillian Alessio and Marvin Paulk told the city’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday that they are trying to think outside the box to fill 20 vacancies on the 155-person force.
New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy regulations currently prohibit noncitizens from serving as police officers, Police Chief Eric Johnson said later.
Alessio told the city panel: “Every day, we get approached by young men and women from Mexico who are in the country legally but are not naturalized. There is a huge pool of people who are dedicated, hard-working and trying to become citizens of this country. They would like nothing better than to devote their time to protecting the communities that they live in.”
Some cities in other states already hire noncitizens as police officers.
Alessio said the Santa Fe police force, like others around the country, has found itself vying to recruit the same 21- to 30-year-olds as the U.S. military.
“We’ve been in a war now for five, almost six years,” she said. “So it is hurting us. The national need (for military recruits) is actually taking the toll on us at a local level.”
Alessio said military actions overseas also have meant shortages of certain supplies for the police department.
“We can’t get certain types of ammunition because they are earmarked and designated for Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said. “And we try to order this ammunition, and I’m just learning that we’re on a backlog of six months to 12 months for this stuff.”
Both the city of Santa Fe and the state of New Mexico have policies against police officers trying to enforce federal immigration laws.