BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – It was just this week when the Mayor of Belen announced the city would be getting extra help with patrols from New Mexico State Police. However, the Belen Police Chief wasn’t happy about how the announcement reflected on the department.
“To see a negative cast be placed on this proactive law enforcement effort, is disheartening to me as the Chief of Police,” says Chief Victor Rodriguez.
Earlier this week, Belen Mayor Jera Cordova announced that NMSP officers were sent to Belen to help curb their growing crime problem. Cordova says the city asked state police for the extra help this past summer, because of a severe officer shortage within the Belen Police Department.
“We, not only at the time had a chief on leave, but we also had no leadership whatsoever within the police department,” says Cordova.
That didn’t sit well with Chief Victor Rodriguez, who felt the mayor’s response put the department in a bad light.
“The Belen Police Department, for the last year, has not had any disruption in law enforcement services,” says Chief Rodriguez.
Over the past few months, Mayor Cordova says he’s been frustrated with out Chief Rodriguez has been running the department.
“The chief is a very tough personality. He tends to drop the hammer quite often,” says Mayor Cordova.
The chief responded promptly.
“I refuse to allow politics to interfere with law enforcement,” says Chief Rodriguez.
Ultimately, both men agree they can set aside their differences because the people are what really matters.
“The ultimate goal here is to protect the citizens from crime,” says Cordova.
“I’ve got nothing personal against anybody in the city. At the end of the day, it’s about the community,” says Rodriguez.
Chief Rodriguez was put on a brief administrative leave this past summer pending an internal affairs investigation. Mayor Cordova says the chief was still on leave when the city asked NMSP for the extra patrols.
The Chief says they’re still looking to fill the six positions at the police department.