By Joshua Lucero
Alcohol is sold daily in stores, restaurants, and bars across New Mexico and one of the agencies making sure state regulations are being followed is the New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s Special Investigations Division.
Special Agent Dean Marney, a former Clovis police officer, is a special investigator for the SID.
• Becoming an investigator is a time-consuming process. Applicants must pass a background check, physical evaluations, a polygraph, and a two-hour interview before being considered for the position.
“It was a very long process,” said Marney, “I wanted a change of pace from patrol. Investigations was the next logical step.”
• Investigations are performed weekly, but alcohol sales to intoxicated persons and minors are the most frequent. The SID is responsible for tobacco sales enforcement, conceal carry investigations, and enforcement of New Mexico’s alcohol regulations. Investigators perform compliance checks on establishments, using minors to attempt to buy alcohol to make sure the business is in compliance with the law.
“The hope in any of these operations is 100 percent compliance, but unfortunately alcohol is sold to minors too often.” said Marney.
• Special Investigators have jurisdiction for the entire state. The Special Investigation Divisions has agents assigned to different areas of the state, but each agent has jurisdiction anywhere in the state.
Marney said, “We are state officers, so we have jurisdiction statewide. My primary areas are the counties of Roosevelt, Curry, Quay, De Baca, and Guadalupe, including Ute Lake.”
• Investigations are just one part of the job. Special Investigators work with city and county police officers, community groups and industry employees to create awareness.
Marney explained, “Part of the job is getting out in front of groups to educate people. I sometimes stress about talking to a group at first, but I overcome it pretty fast.”
• Violations range from criminal misdemeanors to administrative violations.
The Special Investigations Division oversees the enforcement of New Mexico’s Liquor Control Act as well as the Conceal Handgun Carry Act. Penalties for violations range from $250 (for the server of alcohol to intoxicated persons or minors) to $10,000 (for a business which has three or more offenses in one year, this includes a revocation of the liquor license).
“The law prohibits a person or a business from selling, serving or consuming alcohol in a public establishment if that person or business isn’t licensed to do so by state regulations and licensing.” Marney said of alcohol regulations.