By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
A sampling of Curry County residents listed traffic control, an increased presence, and drug and crime prevention as priorities for the county’s sheriff’s department.
On the cusp of the local primary election, citizens say they are looking for someone who can address these issues.
Voters will decide Tuesday if Wesley Myers, Doug Bowman Jr. or Matt Murray will be the next sheriff. All three are seeking the Republican nomination, and the winner will run unopposed in November for the position held for the last seven-plus years by Roger Hatcher, who is ineligible for re-election because of a two-term limit.
Increase traffic control
Living near the airport, Pam Lockmiller said one of her biggest concerns is speeding motorists. She said cars careen through the 55-mph zone at speeds of 75 and 80 mph.
“There’s a lot of speeding cars that whip by,” said Lockmiller, who wants a sheriff with wisdom who is open to change and innovation.
“The sheriff’s department says it’s the state police’s job. The state says it’s not them. Whose job is this?” she said.
Even if an increase in taxes were necessary to provide a stronger law enforcement presence in the county, Lockmiller said she would be willing to pay it.
She also questions the current administration’s priorities.
“Citizens are on the back burner. The citizens are being neglected,” she said.
Nellie Mote of Broadview agrees with Lockmiller on the need for improved traffic enforcement.
She said traffic enforcement in Broadview is virtually nonexistent, and speeding vehicles are cause for concern in the small community, she said.
“I would like to see someone stationed out at Broadview to stop people from flying through the stop signs. What has to happen? Do we have to have someone killed out here?” she asked.
Living in a rural area, she acknowledged, means response times are slower and the presence is not as strong as you might find in an urban area, but more attention would be welcome.
“Unless you have a problem, they aren’t usually around. If there’s nothing going on, then there’s no point having (a deputy) sitting on your front porch. But if they had spare time they could come around.”
Satisfied with service
Fern Sanders and her husband ranch and farm north of Texico. Sanders feels the sheriff’s department is doing an adequate job but staffing could become an issue as the county grows.
“It’s always a comfort to know they’re out there protecting the citizens. I think their job is very difficult and demanding.”
Though she has never had to call on the sheriff’s department, she said, “we feel very safe out here.”
“I would not hesitate to call them if we needed them,” she said. “I think they would respond immediately.”
Verna Eshelman said the few times she’s had to call the sheriff’s department in her 55 years in the county, they have always responded.
“I never had a lot of reason to call but the times we have, they always come. It’s good to know if you call they would come. They do a good job,” said Eshelman, who lives 14 miles from Clovis in the Grier area.
Ben McDaniels, who has spent his whole life in Curry County, said he experienced a break-in recently at his home south of Clovis and felt the sheriff’s department didn’t put much effort into his case.
“I don’t think they tried to accomplish much. They’re all about writing up tickets (more) than serving the public,” he said.
McDaniels said he doesn’t see patrols in his area but with the large size of the county, patrolling everywhere would be difficult.
He isn’t sure hiring more deputies could help because they would just need more revenue to support them, he said.
Regular patrols needed
Scott Jones with the Pippin Youth Ranch, about 9 miles north of Clovis, said he has more than 30 years in Curry County. He wants a sheriff who will be there for everyone and not be swayed by money or political pressure.
The times he has needed the assistance of the department, he said they have responded quickly but he is concerned about availability.
“Why aren’t they available all hours? Just because we’re in a rural area doesn’t mean we don’t need them,” he said.
Knowing there are routine night patrols and a presence from law enforcement would ease the mind, Jones said.
Cracking down on illegal drugs and crime deserves high focus, according to Jones.
“Drugs are easy to get. The more we can crack down on illegal substances like that the better. Meth is dangerous and should be a priority. Protection for the citizens and crime prevention should be priority.”