PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) - A former Lovington police officer who admitted exchanging sexually explicit text messages with a teen girl and lost his badge because of it has a new job with another department.
KRQE News 13 has learned Daniel Gonzalez has been hired by the Portales Police Department.
The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy had suspended Gonzalez's certification until Jan. 24.
Hearing transcripts from the July NMLEA board meeting state Lovington police received a harassment complaint from the 17-year-old girl against Gonzalez last February.
According to hearing transcripts, Gonzalez met the girl when he stopped her for speeding last year, and it was during that traffic stop he allegedly asked for her phone number and a hug.
Gonzalez stopped the girl days later for running a stop sign, and after that the text messages began, the girl told police.
"Yes, I made a bad judgment call," Gonzalez said during the July hearing. "And during the internal investigations by both the New Mexico State Police and the Lovington Police Department, I did not lie.
"I understand that as a police officer we are held to a high standard of ethics and a code. And I did fall off the path and violate that code."
Gonzalez said he did not try to solicit the girl, adding, "I am a good officer. I understand as police officers we have to live this life 24/7, and I failed to realize that in making this judgment call."
The state board agreed on a license suspension. But after Jan. 24 he became eligible again to be an officer.
"We don't comment on employees," Portales Police Chief C. Doug Jones told News 13 on Tuesday. "Regarding any hiring practices, we hire based on background checks of the employees and recommendations given to us by the heads of other law enforcement agencies."
In the July hearing, Gonzalez said his former chief in Lovington told him, "'You can be friendly to people, but you cannot be friends with people.' And I now realize that now."
The Jones also said Gonzalez is currently on military deployment but wouldn't comment any further on Gonzalez's status with the department.
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