Tucumcari man wants chief out

By William Thompson: Freedom Newspapers

TUCUMCARI — A Tucumcari man is circulating a petition calling for the dismissal of Police Chief Dennis Townsend.

George Aragon’s petition states: “We, the undersigned Citizens of Tucumcari are petitioning the City Commissioners to request the dismissal of Police Chief Dennis Townsend because of his unprofessional and aggressive tactics toward local citizenry…”

Aragon said he believes Townsend’s officers have been harassing members of the community and that Townsend does not have adequate control over his officers.

Aragon said Tuesday he has almost 300 signatures on the petition, which he plans to submit to city commissioners at Thursday’s meeting. Aragon said he’s placed copies of the petition in four local businesses and has given copies to about a dozen individuals for distribution.

Townsend said he is aware of Aragon’s petition.

“I’ve heard of the petition but I have to refer all questions about the matter to the city manager,” Townsend said. “I can’t comment on it because it is a personnel matter.”

City Manager Richard Primrose said Aragon told him about the petition. “I have no earthly idea right now how city commissioners will respond to the petition,” Primrose said.

“I really can’t comment on it because it is a personnel matter.”

Lt. Nathan Wallace of the New Mexico State Police is among Townsend’s supporters. “In working with Chief Townsend I can say that I don’t think there is any way that Chief Townsend would tolerate harassment on the part of his officers,” Wallace said.

Aragon said he hopes and expects that city commissioners will seek Townsend’s dismissal once they receive copies of the petition. “I’m hoping that Chief Townsend will be terminated and a new chief will be hired who acts in a professional manner,” Aragon said, “and hopefully the officers will no longer harass people.”

Aragon said his 18-year-old son has been cited twice for speeding since Aragon criticized Townsend at a meeting of city commissioners on July 8.

“One night my son pulled into our driveway and a Tucumcari officer came out of nowhere and approached him,” Aragon said. “Soon there were three officers in three separate cars in front of our house. When my wife approached my son to tell him not to sign the speeding ticket one of the officers told her to step back or he would take her to jail. That seems like a lot of trouble to go through over a speeding ticket.”