Behind the Badge, Hmm, interesting title. When the Santa Fe Reporter first called me and said they wanted to do a day in the life type story about me I had mixed emotions. Our wise former Governor Bruce King once said a "controversial front page story where they spell your name right is worth much more than a paid ad on the inside of the paper". It is true, people will remember story's involving you much more that they will the ad you paid for. When I first received the call from Dan Frosh, a great writer who not only writes for the Santa Fe Reporter but also for the New York Times, I had no idea it was to be a cover story. When I later found out I was to grace the cover I was much more nervous. I soon found out they were to interview family, friends, co-workers and detractors and the story was to expand from a day in the life to my whole life story. Ok, now I am really nervous and I swear I could actually see the new white hairs growing on my scalp.
Well, Dan did an excellent job and while there are parts I would not have added if I had written the story, I understand the story had to show all sides of my life. Several serious and more laid back smiling photos were taken as potential cover shots and the likability vote on the chosen shot is still out among my friends and family. Some like it and some do not, I kind of wish I did not look so serious. David Kaufman the photographer, was a real nice person and I like his work. You can not tell from the end result but the photo was taken with a backdrop provided by the downstairs disco room at Swig.
I still am surprised by my opponents assertion that morale at the Sheriff's Office is low. Granted I have over 100 employees and some are not going to be happy, but look at the facts. Sheriff's Deputies have received an average of over 21% in raises since I became Sheriff. When I started we had 14 vacancies, we now have none. Deputies now have Tasers, Pepper spray, and increased radio channels with more to come. Deputies would buy their own weapons because the Sheriff's Office weapons were old and outdated. This is no longer the case, we now provide new state of the art Glock pistols to all. Deputies were unhappy with our uniforms and at their request we changed them to one that the deputies union members picked out by committee. If morale is so low then why do we not see the 16% vacancy rate that other police agencies have. The city police is down 18 officers, The State Police is down 70, Albuquerque is down over 140 officers. We used to be the training ground for other agencies, now we take officers from other agencies. Combine the 14 vacancies we had when I became Sheriff, add the 3 new positions which have been funded and filled and this means we now have 17 more deputies patrolling the streets.
My opponent has also come out in public for privatization to occur once again at our jail. She wants to turn the jail back over to a private company and leave the employees to once again fend for themselves among the private companies that come and go every few years at privately run jails. She made this announcement at Tuesday nights AFSCME meeting where we were both invited to speak. What would morale be like when employees who now enjoy the great benefits of Santa Fe County Employment lose those benefits to a private company which in order to make a profit offers meager retirement and medical benefits. What will the jail be like when three previous companies failed to make a profit and the next company looks to cut corners and succeed where the others have all failed. Unlike my opponent I will not launch personal attacks but I will point out where I feel my opponents ideas and statements are wrong. The jail is one of those instances.