SANTA FE (KRQE) – Two bills, proposed by two different legislators, look to change things for sheriffs offices across the state.
“Right now, we have no qualifications to be a sheriff, so basically, all you have to be is 18-years-old,” Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said.
White says he supports a bill being introduced by Senator Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, who wants to up the requirements to be a sheriff in New Mexico.
“So, you could actually be serving ice cream, at the Dairy Queen, and then run for sheriff if you’re 18,” Padilla said.
Padilla says he was first approached by the state’s Sheriff’s Association to change the law.
“I started looking at the constitution, and a couple of other items, and this [bill] basically sets a minimum bar if you want to get into this line of work,” he said.
The bill says to be a sheriff, you’d have to be at least 21 with seven years of law enforcement experience. You would also have to be a resident of the county you’re running in for at least a year, among other things.
“It’s weeding out the people that don’t have the best interest of the public in mind,” White said.
“That’s just going to help New Mexico to have sort of better qualified leaders,” Padilla said.
The other bill, an amendment, is from Senator Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho. This one would get rid of the two-year term limit for sheriffs.
White also supports this one. “The problem that we’re having is, we get good qualified sheriffs who are educated and trained, they do two terms, then they have to leave,” White said.
This amendment, White said, would keep around the sheriffs who do great things for their community.
The bills have not yet gone to committee up in Santa Fe.