Firings, suspensions, demotions and pay cuts at the jail

Freedom New Mexico

It appears more than one Curry County jail employee has been fired and others have been either demoted, suspended or hit with salary reductions.

The information was part of a brief press release issued Friday by County Manager Lance Pyle.

Pyle declined to identify employees affected, citing personnel policy. He also declined to specify the number of firings or other actions outlined in his announcement, which marked the end of a week of hearings set off by the Nov. 13 escape of Narcizo Soto, 35.

Soto, classified as a violent inmate, was working with a prisoner crew in violation of jail policy. He slipped out a side door and sprinted about 10 blocks, where he was discovered hours later hiding in the attic of a house on Hinkle Street, police said.

A supervisor on duty was fired immediately after the escape. Four others were later served notice of pending disciplinary action up to an including termination by Interim Administrator Tori Sandoval.

Pyle’s announcement Friday said only that hearings he chaired for each of the four employees “were held (this week) and decisions have been rendered,” including “terminations, demotions to include reduction in pay, and suspensions without pay.”

Pyle declined to specify the number of total terminations after the escape but noted he used the word in plural.

“The conduct and lack of attention to County Policy by these employees…(was) unacceptable,” Pyle said. “These types of serious policy violations cannot occur for the safety and security of the facility and the public.”

Soto was allowed to work in violation of policy for a week before the escape. Pyle and Sandoval said disciplinary action was necessary because no one questioned why Soto was working on the floor.

“If these policies were followed and staff questioned and looked into matters, Inmate Soto would never have escaped…jeopardizing our safety and compromising the security of the facility.”