Community Policing? The Santa Fe Police Department's recruitment ads, which grace the rear ends of Santa Fe Trails buses, feature pictures of officers so heavily armored they might as well be headed for Afghanistan instead of Cordova Road.

The ads so bothered Ann O'Halloran, a weaver with an ACLU card who lives in San Miguel County, that she called the SFPD to complain. "I was on [a shuttle] with a bunch of visitors and they're like, 'Well! What is that? Do you have riots all the time?' I was like, 'No, this town is really mellow and we love everybody,'" O'Halloran says.

To her, the ad doesn't say officer friendly. "It says, 'Don't think about protesting all the shit that's going down right now.' That's what it says to me. Because people have bailout rage, or whatever," O'Halloran says. "Hopefully they'll take that down and say, 'To Serve And Protect,' instead of, 'To Bash Heads.'"

Deputy Police Chief Aric Wheeler says the Edit House marketing firm in Rio Rancho advised the SFPD that the martial look would bring in applicants—and it did. The campaign has been running for at least six months, and the department is fully staffed.

"My personal feeling is it brings more of a patriotic sense," Wheeler says. Years ago, "we actually did a lot of the community policing-type advertising. We didn't really see big numbers, as far as people coming in for positions."

The department's recruiting website features a staged SWAT team photo in which officers aim assault rifles at the camera.

Drugs Out, Guns In: To combat the Mexico/US drug smuggling problem, some have suggested setting up southbound checkpoints on the US-Mexico Border. US Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, told reporters on March 30 that he'd favor such checkpoints "at least as far as large vehicles, where substantial amounts of arms could be smuggled through. I'm not saying every car needs to be checked." Bingaman also was asked about recent remarks by Mexican President Felipe Calderón, in which he laid some blame for drug smuggling on corruption on the US side. "I myself don't believe that US officials and border enforcement personnel are part of this corrupt system," Bingaman said.

Shocked, Shocked: Two weeks ago, this column reported Public Service Company of New Mexico's request for a 23 percent increase to residential electrical rates, following a $230 million loss by its Texas subsidiary. On March 6, the utility agreed to a settlement with consumer groups that reduces the proposed rate increase to 4.6 percent. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at
10 am, April 3 at the Boys & Girls Club (730 Alto St).