State police: Lack of response to call result of procedural breakdown

Robin Fornoff

New Mexico State Police on Thursday said a procedural breakdown resulted in no response to a call for help from a Quay County couple whose home was invaded by a stranger.

“Somebody should have been here,” said Fay Edwards, 68, who placed two calls to 911 after a man barged through her back door around 7 p.m. Aug. 26 while she and her 74-year-old husband Gary were watching television. “It was scary.”

Police failed to respond because state police dispatchers failed to notify any officers of either call, said 9th District commander Capt. Jimmy Glascock.

“We don’t have a reason (why),” said Glascock. “One should have been dispatched.”

The Edwards weren’t injured in the incident. Fay Edwards said she was in the front living room with her husband when she heard the back door being opened and then slammed shut. She and Gary said they were stunned to find a young man standing in their kitchen, demanding they give him gasoline for his car.

Both said they were concerned when they didn’t see a car. They later learned the man had parked the car out of sight behind a camper parked on their property about 17 miles south of Tucumcari on State Highway 209.

Fay said the man appeared to be either drunk or high. Gary said his primary concern was to get the man out of the house. Both said the man stumbled and fell to the floor at least once. Fay said they helped him up and began to “ease him” outside.

The man was eventually persuaded they didn’t have any gasoline and drove away in his car south toward Clovis, the couple said.

Fay called Quay County 911 dispatch twice, Glascock said. Both times she told the dispatcher a man had entered their home but had just left and was believed headed to Clovis.

Glascock said Quay County dispatch relayed the information to state police dispatch, who failed to notify an officer. Glascock also said even though the information state police had was the man had left the home, an officer should have been notified and should have visited the Edwards’ home.

“I believe it would be reasonable for an officer to go (to the house),” Glascock said. “It would have been reasonable for an officer to go by as well as be on lookout for the vehicle.”

Fay Edwards said their first contact with any state police officer was Wednesday evening, some 12 days after they had called for help. She said the state police officer apologized for the mix-up.

“I know I told him even though we live out in the county … we pay our taxes,” Fay said. “When we call for help, we expect results.”

Glascock said state police have identified a suspect but declined to discuss details, noting the man hasn’t been arrested or charged. He said officers were still investigating and planned to present their findings to District Attorney Ronald Reeves within the next few days for a final determination.

Glascock said officials have addressed the mix-up and taken proper action to ensure it doesn’t happen again. He declined to discuss specifics, noting it was a personnel matter.

“We have discussed it with our dispatchers,” said Glascock. “I believe there was reasonable information that an officer should have responded. We have addressed it.”