Tucumcari police chief resigns

By TV Hagenah: Freedom Newspapers

TUCUMCARI — Dennis Townsend has resigned as Tucumcari’s police chief, effective Nov. 29, Tucumcari City Manager Richard Primrose said.

Townsend is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

The veteran law officer had faced heavy criticism in the past 10 months with residents claiming officers were harassing law-abiding citizens. A petition was circulated seeking his removal from office.

As recently as Oct. 13, however, Townsend said he had no intention of resigning “in the foreseeable future.”

Tucumcari Mayor Mary Mayfield said Townsend gave no reason for his resignation.

“It (his letter of resignation) went straight to the point and didn’t deal with reasons,” she said. “I’m sure he has mixed feelings about resigning. I think we all have mixed feelings about this.”

Primrose said Townsend has “been a good chief. I’m sorry to see him leave.”

Mayfield said she was “surprised and a little disappointed” that Townsend resigned since consultants on Thursday evening presented a report on the city police department. “I wanted him to hear what the consultants said and have the opportunity to work on the recommendations,” Mayfield said.

Primrose said Townsend is on vacation in Nebraska until Nov. 23.

Primrose said a search will begin immediately for a new chief. “We will be looking, and it will be an extensive search,” he said.

Det. Sgt. Albert Baca is the acting chief while Townsend is on vacation. Lt. Charles “Chuck” Newman will be interim chief after Townsend leaves.

Newman is on vacation until Nov. 30, Primrose said.

Townsend worked for Tucumcari’s police department for almost 20 years. Primrose said Townsend left the department in the early 1990s and then returned in 1994. He was named interim chief in 1997, then became chief in 1998.