Police Pay Arms Race

Friday, October 5, 2018.

Cash for cops

Santa Fe plans to offer a $1,000 bonus to police recruits if they complete the police academy, and will offer $3,000 to lateral hires from other agencies. The city is trying the bonuses as a way to attract officers to fill its vacancies, which currently number about a sixth of the force. The University of New Mexico also just boosted pay 13 percent for its cops. The arms race is being driven by Albuquerque, which had to jack up its basic officer pay to attract police to the beleaguered department as it attempts to work its way out of an unconstitutional policing morass.

The people's attorney

That's Hector Balderas, by virtue of his job as attorney general. Long seen as politically ambitious, Balderas eschewed a run for governor this year and instead is vying for a second term as the state's top law enforcer. How has he done in his first term? What does reality look like when compared to his rhetoric? SFR gets transparent in its cover story this week.

'The whole world knows it'

Maybe not. The chairman of the New Mexico Racing Commission is currently deciding on qualifications and standards for a new racetrack/casino—RACINO (which ranks up there with Glowdeo, thundersnow and Bennifer as a terrible word)—in Clovis. Ray Willis has also been a longtime business partner with two of the principles in a company that's bidding for the right to run a new facility. Willis, also sits on the Gaming Control Board, which regulates slot machines at racetrack casinos. Willis insists there's no conflict of interest ($).

Not a good sign

A government watchdog group based in Washington, DC says New Mexico is among the 10 worst states at passing laws and regulations designed to root out and prevent corruption. The Coalition for Integrity say the state does a fair job of regulating gifts to public officials. Voters will decide in the November election whether to create an independent ethics commission to review complaints against public officials.

Not out of line

A federal judge has ruled that two Las Cruces police officers were within their right ($) to pull over a motorcyclist in 2016, then arrest him and take him to the hospital after he fainted in the back of a squad car. Medical staff there forcibly catheterized him after he refused a urine sample. The judge ruled the officers had probable cause and that Ruben Favela's condition warranted the medical procedure.

On Desperate Ground

Noted Santa Fe author Hampton Sides has focused his narrative non-fiction lens on the Korean War and its backstory in his new book, On Desperate Ground. NPR decided to examine something more legit than an alleged chile rivalry and had an interesting conversation with Sides earlier this week.

Splendor and Misery

Joel-Peter Witkin has been described a lot of ways. The artist has focused on bodies of those dead and alive, unmarred and otherwise changed. Tonight, at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, the photo-centric CENTER group opens a retrospective of the 79-year-old photographer's work. It starts at 6 pm and is free. Learn more about Witkin in this week's SFR.

Fall and fiesta

Balloon Fiesta starts this weekend. As temperatures trend toward the rather chilly on Monday, we'll have a couple of contrasting weekend days. The better balloon flying weather seems to be set for Saturday.  Expect highs in the 60s in Santa Fe and 70s in Albuquerque.

Thanks for reading! The Word has begun the yearly debate of whether it's worth it to get up even earlier to trek down to Balloon Fiesta. It always seems to be … but it's so painful.

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