Law enforcement prepares for year ahead

MCT illustration

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Recruitment and retention, continued interagency collaboration, improved equipment and training, the fight against drugs, graffiti and truancy — These are but a few of the priorities law enforcement agencies have for the new year.

As 2008 begins, area departments are outlining their objectives and evaluating obstacles they expect to face.

District Attorney
District Attorney Matt Chandler said his focus for the coming year is on his office’s truancy program, the Newman Project, which is a senior safety program, and narcotic enforcement.

“It is primarily narcotics that we’re fighting against and we continue to focus our efforts on eliminating methamphetamines from our district,” he said.

He believes attacking narcotics in the community, especially methamphetamines, will reduce other crime rates.

Strict prosecution of repeat drug offenders and efforts to rehabilitate addicts go hand in hand, Chandler said.

“When a methamphetamine user is arrested we have to look at whether rehabilitation is the answer. With regard to manufacturing and trafficking, the only option is long term incarceration,” he said. “The people that are feeding methamphetamines to our community need to be locked up.”

Curry County Sheriff’s Office
The focus is on DWI enforcement, curbing copper theft, a bully prevention program for school children and burglary investigations, according to Sheriff Matt Murray and Undersheriff Wesley Waller.

“Copper theft has been a reoccurring problem,” Waller said. “It’s happening sporadically, but when they do steal it, they’re stealing large quantities.”

Waller said agriculture and construction seem to be the sectors suffering most from the thefts.

Murray and Waller said their department is pushing for legislation requiring recycling centers to document copper transactions so sellers can be identified through a paper-trail in the event of theft.

They also plan to continue pursuing funding for equipment to bolster department resources, Murray said.

In 2007, some of the items the sheriff’s department purchased were new patrol vehicles and uniforms.

“You have to keep your guys up with the latest equipment. It makes their job easier. They should be able to do the job and be confident about it,” he said.

Clovis Police
Capt. Patrick Whitney said the emphasis this year is on building new initiatives such as “One with Clovis,” a philosophy of police and the community working together to curb crime.

School programs are a strength the department wants to continue focusing on, he said.

Continued efforts to abate graffiti and use of the neighborhood impact team are high priorities for the coming year, he said.

“We go into those areas where they’re having problems now and there’s a lot of arrests that have been made out of that impact team, so it definitely makes a difference.”