Valencia Co. Sheriff’s Office puts neighborhood event on hold after backlash

New Mexico News

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Pay $10 and tase a cop, that’s what the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office was purposing as a fundraiser during next week’s National Night Out. The office asked community members about the idea before publishing it and said it got positive feedback.

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However, the office quickly put the event on hold after it received backlash online. “Some of the negative feedback comments that we received I think the primary message was one, promoting violence against cops and two, kind of torturing our deputies or forcing our deputies to undergo some sort of punishment there,” said Lt. Joseph Rowland, the Public Information Officer with the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office.

But he said that wasn’t the case. The event was volunteer-based for deputies, who have already been tased before during training. There would also be safety precautions in place like mats on the ground for deputies being tased and the tasing instructor on hand to help. “The Sheriff being prudent I believe withdrew it to try and see are we doing something that maybe would upset the community? Or maybe we didn’t articulate outside well enough in advance to kind of show what it was that we were trying to do,” he said.

Lt. Rowland said the event was all about education and engagement. “We were trying to show that we use it during the course of our job and let’s show you why that is and what are the benefits of that for us to our community members. so kind of open up our doors, let them into our realm a little bit, and share with them a tool that has helped law enforcement for many years now,” he said. “We were trying to take a tool that we’re very familiar within law enforcement and try to get the community to be a little more knowledgeable about it and a little bit more understanding with how it works.”

The event would raise funds for the sheriff’s office’s reserve deputy program, which trains citizens who then volunteer 16 hours a month to assist deputies when needed. From equipment to the uniform, the citizens pay for everything on their own, which could be about $1,000, according to Lt. Rowland. The program needs more funds. It currently has eight reserve deputies but has the capacity for 18.

Lt. Rowland said the department is reevaluating the event and listening to the community to see if it could work someday in the future. The office is still holding community events for National Night Out.

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