Interviews set for Region V Drug Task Force coordinator

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Three candidates are being interviewed Monday for the position of Region V Drug Task Force coordinator.

Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders said the candidates for the position are retired Deputy Police Chief Roger Bartosiewicz, retired Clovis Police Chief Ray Mondragon and former Clovis Police Officer Heather Wike.

Sanders, who is a task force board member, said retired Clovis Police Chief Bill Carey opted not to seek a new contract and vacated the position May 31.

Carey had been in the position since Oct. 2006 following his retirement from the police department.

Sanders said when Carey’s contract expired, the board decided to open the position up to applicants and, “Mr. Carey opted not to participate.”

Clovis Lt. Doug Ford is acting interim coordinator until a replacement is hired.

Sanders said a salary for the position will be determined by negotiations after a candidate is selected.

The coordinator is responsible for managing federal and state grant money — the lifeblood of the task force — used to purchase equipment, pay overtime and fund confidential informant operations, Sanders said.

Sanders said the coordinator manages the funds and equipment used by the group, such as GPS tracking devices, cameras, video equipment, undercover vehicles and more.

The task force is a collaborative law enforcement group drawn from Curry, Roosevelt, Quay and De Baca counties and includes the sheriff’s office in those counties as well as police departments in Clovis, Portales, Tucumcari, Texico, Santa Rosa and Logan as well as seven villages that do not maintain full time police services, Sanders said.

Sanders said there are six full time agents dedicated to the task force — officers drawn from the Roosevelt and Curry County Sheriff’s offices as well as officers from Clovis, Portales and Santa Rosa — with the possibility of more being added.

When additional officers are needed for operations, Sanders said they are supplemented from member agencies and paid for with overtime money from grants.

“They basically target the drug activity in the region,” he said, explaining methamphetamine remains the drug of choice in the region with a recent increase being seen in crack and powder cocaine.

Sanders said mobile meth labs continue to be an issue and the task force has also successfully collaborated with west Texas law enforcement to stop drugs being trafficked through the area.

“We know that it’s there. It comes through us (and) some of it comes back to us,” he said. “It’s important to have that partnership.”

In 2009, task force board president and Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray reported the task force was awarded approximately $100,000 through the federal Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program.

For 2010, the task force has applied for $260,000 from the fund according to city records.

In May, the task force received $9,800 from New Mexico State Police for methamphetamine interdiction and associated crime.

In 2009, the Region V Drug Task Force was rated second out of seven similar task forces in the state, Murray said.