On Wednesday, the City of Santa Fe officially announced former Police Chief Aric Wheeler's resignation. Former Deputy Chief Raymond Rael will take over as interim police chief.

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According to a press release from the city, Wheeler is stepping down "as a means of devoting more time to his wife and four children." (A story in Wednesday's New Mexican about Wheeler's resignation, however, mentions the city's high burglary rate or a recent no-confidence vote from the police union.)

Here's the full text from the press release:

City of Santa Fe Announces New Interim Police Chief

Former Chief Aric Wheeler to continue as Police Captain

Santa Fe, NM (March 23, 2011)--City Manager Robert Romero announced today that Raymond J. Rael will serve as Interim Police Chief for the Santa Fe Police Department. Interim Chief Rael replaces Aric Wheeler who stepped down as Police Chief into a role as a Police Captain within the department.  Rael will serve as Interim Chief while the City completes a search for a permanent Police Chief.

Rael is a former Deputy Chief for the Santa Fe Police Department, where he was a law enforcement officer from 1978 to 1999.  Prior to becoming a law enforcement officer, Rael served as a Vietnam Era Marine Corps Veteran from 1972 to 1978.  From 2004 until the present, Rael has served as the EEOC Compliance Administrator for the City of Santa Fe.  Rael is a Santa Fe native and Santa Fe High School graduate with an Associates Degree in Business Administration from the Santa Fe Community College.

“As Interim Police Chief, I intend to focus on reducing burglaries and ensuring the safety of our citizens and visitors,” Rael said. “I will work with my officers to develop a comprehensive plan to increase the number of officers in our community and for taking serial burglars off the streets. Additionally, I look forward to working directly with police officers to maintain a positive and productive police force.”

“I have met with Interim Chief Rael and reinforced the importance of keeping our community safe and implementing programs to dramatically reduce property crimes in our city,” Mayor Coss said.  Mayor Coss continued, “Furthermore, I am greatly encouraged by his desire to build strong and professional relationships with our hard working police officers.”

Former Chief Wheeler served as Police Chief from June 2009 until today.  He is taking the opportunity to step into the role as Police Captain as a means of devoting more time to his wife and four children. On Wheeler’s departure, Mayor Coss stated, “I would like to thank Aric Wheeler for his hard work and his dedication to our community.  Our citizens are grateful for his efforts.”


Photo: Wheeler addresses a state Senate committee hearing on HB 78, the bill aimed at barring driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Wheeler testified that the current law, which allows licenses for undocumented immigrants, "empowers my officers" by keeping tabs on more drivers.