Today I was attending the first meeting of the Governors Tribal DWI Task Force at the Tamaya Resort located on the Santa Ana Pueblo. Governor Richardson appointed me to the task force which is charged with helping tribes combat DWI. Shortly after lunch my cell phone and every other cell phone belonging to a law enforcement officer began ringing and beeping with text messages. Word spread quickly, City Police Sergeant Steve Altonji and Detective Danny Ramirez were arrested by the F.B.I. on numerous charges. We all see arrests every day, we see bad guys, repeat offenders, and some times good people who do bad things. What we don't see often is one of our own in handcuffs. Its depressing and demoralizing. I could see it on the faces of the other officers at the meeting. A couple of us worked with Danny years ago at the City Police. Although we were in separate divisions, Danny in Narcotics and I in Juveniles I would have never expected to see him charged in a crime.
Law Enforcement is hit hard when something like this happens. Officers authority does not come from the badge or the gun, it is the public that bestows that honor upon them. Its a big responsibility to live up to, but in the end officers are human first, cops second. When one of the officers fail we all fail. Now we all have to work twice as hard to redeem the profession and restore the honor. To all of you who are not officers I ask you to not pull out the big brush and start painting. In law enforcement we make the arrests and the courts and a jury make the decision. I await the jury's decision and withhold judgement until the evidence is out. In the mean time all law enforcement suffers. To the families of Danny Rameriz and Steve Altonji, especially their young children, our prayers are with you.
P.S. The Free New Mexican Web Site has been posting updated information all day and now has posted the actual indictments.