The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Sheriff's Corner

Bernalillo dispatching goes regional

Bill Diven

The town of Bernalillo is turning its police dispatching over to a regional center in Rio Rancho, but not without some trepidation.

“We're not as afraid of it as we were before, so we're grudgingly participating,” town administrator Lester Swindle said. “But we're not selling our equipment.”

Five Bernalillo Police Department dispatchers were scheduled to become employees of the Sandoval County Regional Communication Center in Rio Rancho. The center already handles fire and EMS dispatching for the town, and that experience has allayed some of the town's fears, Swindle said.

Bernalillo Mayor Charles Aguilar had complained that the town was being forced to join the dispatch center without having a seat on the board that controls it. That has since been resolved.

Swindle said the town also is concerned that the regional center is unionized and could be affected by collective-bargaining disputes over contract issues.

Changes in state law, particularly the expense of enhanced 911 services for cell phones, are driving the statewide consolidation of local police, fire, and emergency-medical dispatching. Under a 2001 law, a surcharge on cell-phone bills pays for “wireless enhanced 911,” although few of the enhancements are in operation.

Late last year, the combined Albuquerque and Bernalillo County dispatch center became the first in the state to use equipment that identifies the number of an incoming cell call. Previously there was no way to identify a caller or to call back if the signal were lost.

When the enhanced system is fully deployed, cell 911 calls, like those from land lines, will identify the caller and use cell towers to locate the call.

“Within two years it will be able to pinpoint the caller within twenty or thirty feet,” Bernalillo police chief Fred Radosevich told town councilors.

Steve Shaw, operations chief of the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety, told the Signpost that Bernalillo residents have nothing to fear from their dispatchers moving across the Rio Grande. The center already handles city, county, Corrales, and pueblo dispatching and takes calls from the same nonemergency phone numbers previously used in those communities.

“A lot of the time calls overlap, and by having all the dispatching service in one entity, there's more communication,” Shaw said. “People sit right across the aisle from one another rather than picking up the phone and having to call another facility.”


Algodones post-office burglar cops a plea

John Paul Trujillo
Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office

On May 13, 2005, Leonel Valdez, a twenty-one-year-old Albuquerque resident pled guilty in Sandoval County Magistrate Court to burglarizing the Cotton City Exchange in Algodones on October 10, 2004. The Cotton City Exchange is a small store that is also a contract U.S. Post Office.

The burglary was investigated by the Sandoval County Sheriff’s office in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. In January 2005, an arrest warrant was issued for Valdez’s arrest. Valdez was arrested on May 4, 2005, in Albuquerque on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant in Bernalillo County and also for the arrest warrant for this burglary. Speaking with investigators, Valdez denied participation in the burglary, but he provided information that led to witnesses who strengthened the case against him. Valdez stole and damaged property valued in excess of $1,000. Valdez was present in court for a preliminary hearing and was given a plea agreement, which he accepted through his attorney.

Questions may be directed to Sheriff John Paul Trujillo, at 867-7526, or Detective Mike Traxler, at 867-7519.


Five-state campaign urges “Buckle Up in Your Truck”

The Bernalillo Police Department has joined with traffic-safety advocates across a five-state region in a drive to convince pickup truck drivers and passengers in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and the Indian nations to “Buckle Up in Your Truck.”

State observation surveys show that well over a million pickup drivers and passengers in the five state region are still not buckling up—a rate of five to fifteen percentage points lower than in all other passenger vehicles—resulting in more than a thousand pickup occupants dying every year in traffic crashes in the five states.

“Pickups are twice as likely to roll over as passenger cars in fatal crashes. Nearly half of the deaths in pickup crashes in the region involve a rollover. Wearing your safety belt reduces the risk of dying in a rollover crash by up to 80 percent,” according to Chief Fred Radosevich. “And buckling up is your only defense against being ejected from your vehicle, one of the most deadly things that can happen to you in a crash.” National research showed that of the partially or completely ejected occupants in the rollover crashes studied, 81 percent were not using safety belts, compared to only 18 percent who were.

“There are still far too many people, regardless of the vehicle they drive, in this jurisdiction who don’t think they need to buckle up. We want these drivers and passengers to know that far too many of our community’s caring families are risking losing a husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter simply for lack of wearing a safety belt. That’s why we’d rather write them a ticket than see someone injured or dead in a crash down the road,” he said.

From May 23 through June 5, Bernalillo Police Department officers will be out in force, participating in the Buckle Up in Your Truck campaign and safety-belt enforcement. The Buckle Up in Your Truck campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the highway-safety offices in the five States and the Indian nations. For driving tips on how to avoid rollover crashes and injuries, go to


Sex offenders comply with registration

John Paul Trujillo
Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office

As of May 16, 2005, one hundred and thirty one individuals have complied with NMSA 29-11A-1 New Mexico Sex Offender Registration Act. Forty-six individuals have moved, two are deceased, five are incarcerated, one no longer has to register, and two are absconders.

The following is a breakdown of sex offenders by place of residence: Algodones 1, Bernalillo 8, Placitas 1, Corrales 2, Cuba 5, La Jara 1, Regina 1, Ojo Encino 1, Rio Rancho 36 (two in jail), Sandia Pueblo (one in jail), Santa Ana Pueblo 1, San Felipe Pueblo 9, Santo Domingo Pueblo 5 (one in jail), Jemez Pueblo 2, Zia Pueblo 1 (one in jail). Sixty-two are listed on the Internet at and thirteen are not.


Irish firefighters start bagpipe tradition to mourn fallen heroes

Bert Bennett

The tradition of bagpipes at fire department funerals in the United States goes back over 150 years. When the Irish and Scottish immigrated to this country, they brought many of their traditions with them. One of these was the bagpipe, often played at Celtic weddings, funerals, and dances.

It wasn’t until the great potato famine and massive Irish immigration to the east coast of the United States that the tradition of the pipes really took hold in fire departments.

Factories and shops had signs reading NINA (No Irish Need Apply). The only jobs the Irish could get were the ones no one else wanted, jobs that were dirty, dangerous, or both—firefighters and police officers. It was not an uncommon event to have several firefighters killed while working a fire. The Irish firefighters’ funerals were typical of all Irish—the pipes were played. It was somehow okay for a hardened firefighter to cry at the sound of pipes when his dignity would not let him weep for a fallen comrade.

Those who have been to funerals when bagpipes play know how haunting and mournful the sound of pipes can be. Before too long, families and friends of non-Irish firefighters began asking for the pipes to play for these fallen heroes. The pipes add a special aid and dignity to the solemn occasion.

Associated with cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, pipe bands representing both fire and police often have more than sixty uniformed members. They are also traditionally known as Emerald Societites, after Ireland—the Emerald Isle. Many bands wear traditional Scottish dress while others wear the simpler Irish uniform. All members wear the kilt and tunic, whether it is a Scottish clan tartan or Irish single color kilt.

Today the tradition is universal and not just for the Irish or Scottish. The pipes have come to be a distinguishing feature of a fallen hero’s funeral.

This story originally appeared in What the Blazes? a column in TALON (The Aztec Local News), May 16-31, 2005.




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