Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal asks readers to respond via e-mail to a series of questions each week. To participate in Project: Reader Reaction, contact Editor David Stevens at:
A recent Project: Reader Reaction question asked if Clovis police are understaffed or underpaid and if Clovis is “one of the most dangerous places in the state to live,” as alleged in a recent petition submitted to the city. Some responses:
“Compared to the ganglands of cities like Albuquerque, I would say Clovis is one of the better cities in New Mexico to live and raise a family. However, as our city prospers in new economic growth, so has the crime rate increased. We are starting to have gang-related crimes here. I see people, seemingly possessed by demons, speed maddeningly down Prince and 21st Streets. Robberies, assaults and driving while intoxicated all seem to be on the rise.
“To address these mounting troubles we have a disastrously undermanned police force. To ad insult to injury, they are also probably one of the most underpaid forces in the entire nation. This is a true travesty. These people put their lives on the line for the citizens of Clovis every day and this is how they are repaid.
“If it were up to me there would be no new events center as I find its present proposal questionable anyway. Instead I would redirect these funds to where they are needed most and that is with our local law enforcement agency.” — Bill D. Middleton, Clovis
“No, I do not think Clovis is the most dangerous place to live. Albuquerque and Roswell are worse by far. I agree that because of the growth of Clovis we are gaining in gang movement. Maybe we need a special force just to keep track of gang members. The police could do with a raise and with more officers, but I wonder if the police couldn’t be utilized better than they are. … Our police need help and the city should be able to raise the wages enough to entice more academy graduates to move here.” — Ardyth Elms, Clovis
“Friday’s apparent murder and two robberies in 25 minutes put a huge punctuation mark on the contention that Clovis certainly is a more dangerous place to live than we have been led to believe. That Clovis is growing with many new businesses and post-secondary educational facilities and opportunities are increasing gives the chamber of commerce just cause to be proud. Let’s see the chamber, our businesses, the city and county commissions, and our community in general get behind a significant upgrade of our law enforcement team NOW! The police and sheriff’s departments must expand as Clovis expands.” — Bill Gaedke, Clovis
“I don’t think Clovis is one of the most dangerous places in the state to live, (but) it is becoming more violent. There was a time when we wouldn’t think about a drive-by shooting but they happen all to often.
“Last summer during a softball tournament we had a large fight at the softball complex requiring six police officers and a deputy sheriff to handle the problem. I overheard one of the police officers say the entire police force for that shift was at the softball complex. If that were true, we are definitely understaffed.
“As for underpaid, that is a relative term. I don’t know the entire pay structure for the state, but I’ve heard numerous times that Clovis pays less than virtually every police department in the state. That’s sad considering Clovis is the fourth or fifth largest city in the state.” — Jeffrey Greene, Clovis
“I don’t know if it’s the most dangerous place in the state, but I do know crime is definitely on the rise in Clovis. Our police department is considerably understaffed and underpaid. I can drive around Clovis on any given day or night and I might see one or two patrol cars.
“According to Friday’s CNJ, Clovis’ new officers start out at $11.68 an hour. I would have to do some serious soul searching to put my life on the line for those wages. I would be happy to pay whatever increase in taxes it would take to get them a decent wage, and attract more qualified officers.
“One other item needs to be addressed: Are we utilizing our officers correctly? I don’t know if the officers that do traffic control at the high school during lunch are full-time officers or not, but I do believe the school officials need to address their problem with this and not Clovis police.” — Michael Williams, Clovis
“I do not believe Clovis is ‘one of the most dangerous places to live in the state.’ Every city that I have been in has their share of the bad element. There is a lack of parental supervision here and all across this nation.
“Without more data, I cannot determine whether the police force is understaffed or underpaid. Officer compensation is a problem across New Mexico except for the larger cities. I do know there is a lot more enforcement needed. Some of the things police seem to look the other way on are boom boxes, loud exhaust, and the non-use of turn signals. Even most of the police do not use turn signals.” — John Frey, Clovis
“(Have these petition organizers) been out of Clovis? Like to Roswell, where crime is three times more rampant than here, or Albuquerque where crimes are more abundant in all categories?
“As for the police, yes, I do believe they are underpaid and understaffed for a city this size, just as school teachers and city workers are. Both city and county commissions want this city to grow, but will do nothing about compensating the city workers. Yes, taxes will have to go up, but I’m willing to pay my share to see that we have a better community to live in as we grow.
“And don’t forget about the firefighters. As in a marriage, we must take the bad points along with the good and live with it. Change is good for the soul and the price of peace comes high.” — Gerald Majewski, Clovis
“Referring to Clovis as one of the state’s most dangerous places to live is an exaggeration. Why must we resort to such sensationalism? Well-paid staffing simply needs to take budget priority over some of the “pet” projects.” — Glenda Horner, Clovis
“I disagree that Clovis is the most dangerous place in New Mexico. … Maybe more (police) time should be spent looking for crime rather than seat belt offenders. … Our lives are in (police officers’) hands and they should be paid on an equal basis of other states.” — James W. McDonald, Clovis
“I can believe the Clovis Police Department is probably understaffed and definitely underpaid, but the contention that Clovis is “one of the most dangerous places in the state to live” seems exaggerated. I’ve resided in Clovis since 1974 and can’t recall ever feeling unsafe.” — Dorothy Nelson, Clovis
“Yes, I believe Clovis is one of the most dangerous cities in the state. That is because it is one of the biggest cities in the state. However, I do believe the officers that Clovis employs are doing a wonderful job for their numbers. I believe we are grossly understaffed in the police department. I also believe they are grossly underpaid for what they are asked to do for us.
“Just because we are a smaller city doesn’t mean the job is any less dangerous. A bullet doesn’t know if it is being fired in a small town or a big city … it will kill you just as quick.” — Jim Sitterly, Clovis