April 6, 2008 Cops and Courts

A Clovis police officer was cited for leaving the scene of a crash and careless driving, according to police reports.

Officer Chris Lopez, 27, received the citations March 19, after residents reported seeing him run into a residential mailbox in the 2000 block of Kelso Street, back up and then leave the scene at a high rate of speed, according to the report.

Lopez told the investigating officer he had done a U-turn to catch up with a vehicle heading in the other direction and thought he hit the curb, the report said.

The officer noted in his report Lopez’ statements were inconsistent with the damage to the mailbox and vehicle. Additionally, witnesses reported hearing the crash from inside homes located more than 20 yards away, the report said.

Clovis police Capt. Patrick Whitney said he could not discuss personnel issues but said the matter was being addressed and Lopez remains on normal duty status.

The Clovis Police Department has hired a female officer, the first in about a year, according to Chief of Police Dan Blair.

Blair said Sandra Spear, who has been with the department as a dispatcher since September 2007, was offered the new position Wednesday.

The department’s last female officer was Erica Romero, who worked as a K-9 handler. Romero transferred to the Curry County Sheriff’s Office in March 2007.

Blair said the new officer would attend the police academy to obtain certification in coming months.

Cops and Courts is compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-3431, ext. 314, or by e-mail: