Officers say city dangerous due to a police shortage

Clovis Police officer Lyndell Stansell, Jr., right, checks out a taser gun during a meeting for the swing shift Thursday at the Clovis Police Department along with officers Steve Wright, left, and David Lester, center. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

Darrell Todd Maurina

Clovis police officials, contending officers are underpaid and that’s a key reason the department is understaffed, have organized a petition alleging the city is “one of the most dangerous places in the state to live.” But at least some area residents said Thursday they feel safe in Clovis, especially in comparison with other cities.
“I just spent a week in Albuquerque and I think Clovis is a lot safer,” said Dusty Leatherwood, a retired firefighter. “I don’t have anyone here standing in the middle of the street throwing rocks at my pickup, and that happened in Albuquerque.”
Leatherwood was among city residents and visitors interviewed Thursday outside the North Plains Cinema, site of two armed robberies and one attempted robbery this summer.
Ben Trevino, a dairyhand who moved to Clovis five years ago from Bakersfield, Calif., said he appreciated the lower crime rate in Clovis.
“It’s more quiet and more calm than Bakersfield,” Trevino said. “The only thing I don’t like about Clovis is they don’t have stop signs on a lot of corners.”
John Ausburn, who left Clovis a few years ago to move to Oklahoma City, was back visiting his parents on Thursday.
“Yes, I do feel safe here,” Ausburn said. “It’s a lot wilder in Oklahoma City than it is here.”
But lifelong Clovis residents Randy Ashley and Sharon Wilson said they debated over dinner whether they should go to the movies at a theater that has been hit repeatedly by armed robbers in recent months.
“I feel safe only because it’s not the weekend,” Wilson said. “I just wish our kids felt as safe as we did when we were growing up.”
Ashley, who owns a concrete contracting business, said he had personal crime experience just this past week.
“I had $18,000 worth of equipment stolen out of my pickup bed,” Ashley said. “All I know is the officers told me they are 17 officers short with understaffing, and he said much of the crime here is gang-related. We never had that in Clovis when I was growing up.”
Wilson said she no longer leaves her home alone at night, and feels safe at home mostly because she has a gun.
“I feel safe at home, I lock my door and I have my .357,” Wilson said.