[CAPTION: Last week, deputies responded to a disturbance at Clark Heights, and the rifle shown above was confiscated. Deputies were called to try and calm down the subject living at the house, who had ransacked several rooms. This is only one example, says Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, of the numerous and unpredictable calls the department receives, not to mention, the potentially deadly circumstances officers encounter on a daily basis. Photo courtesy Sheriffâ€™s Office]
Sheriff tells deputies that deputies are overwhelmed
BY ROBERT MORALES
Mr. Carrillo outlined in detail that the current number of officers (The Advocate will not publish the number.) was not sufficient to address the growing number of incidences that have taken place over the last year. As Mr. Carrillo explained, Van Horn has experienced a burst in population, whether temporary or permanent, probably as a result of the oil and gas drilling speculation.
As is the case in those towns and cities experiencing the current oil and gas boom, a higher crime rate can be attributed to the proportionate growth in population.
Culberson County sheriffâ€™s deputies work 12-hour shifts. Mr. Carrillo added that it is not uncommon for him to relieve an officer when several deputies are needed in a county that spans 3,800 square miles.
“When I take a call and drive out to Kent or to the drilling rigs near Orla, that doesnâ€™t leave any back up for me,â€ Mr. Carrillo said. “Weâ€™re burning the candle at both ends. My concern is that now my deputies are facing losing their vacation time. Itâ€™s their privilege to receive vacation time.â€
“Iâ€™m their backup. When one [of the deputies] takes a day of vacation or calls in sick, I fill those shoes. Whereâ€™s my backup? I have no one else to call. We had a lot of parties and celebrations this weekend. Our guys are so overworked right now that theyâ€™d rather have time off than comp time or overtime pay.â€
Mr. Carrillo said that he had just been called to Pecos to a meeting with the Reeves County Sheriff and the Eddy County (Carlsbad, New Mexico) Sheriff. Those sheriffâ€™s departments have been handling a multitude of calls for the outskirts of Culberson County because there are many occasions that our deputies cannot answer a call in northeast Culberson County, said Mr. Carrillo.
“This is your backyard,â€ said Mr. Carrillo, quoting one of the sheriffs. “Weâ€™re fielding your calls and we donâ€™t mind taking your calls.â€ Mr. Carrillo said that the two sheriffs want a memorandum of understanding signed between the two counties and Culberson County because of the potential liability involved with another sheriffâ€™s office handling the calls for a different jurisdiction.
Essentially, Mr. Carrillo said, the two sheriffs issued a mild ultimatum to Culberson County: Weâ€™re glad to help you when we can, but at some point, youâ€™re going to have to do it yourself. As Mr. Carrillo explained, many of the calls to northeast Culberson County have to do with theft related to the oil and gas drilling. According to Constable Bruce Jackson, Precinct 3, last year, Eddy County reported more than $2.5 million in oilfield-related theft in Culberson County. He said that number to date is around $800,000.
“That part of the county is under some major changes,â€ said Mr. Jackson.
Following Mr. Carrilloâ€™s presentation, commissioners went into closed session to discuss salaries and compensation. After a few minutes, commissioners went back into open session to announce that they will review the numbers with County Auditor Mark Cabezuela as soon as possible so that commissioners can discuss at a later date the hiring of one new officer before the new fiscal year in October.