Sandoval County Sheriff Doug Wood talks with Signpost.
Since taking office in January, 2011, Sandoval County Sheriff, Doug Wood, has not generated nearly as much press as his predecessor John Paul Trujillo. No stakeouts, no speeding through Albuquerque, no angry confrontations. The new sheriff is too busy for that sort of adventure. “I’m in the office eight to ten hours a day,” Wood says. “I am also in great demand at ribbon-cutting ceremonies.” Though no fan of Trujillo’s, Wood refuses to bad-mouth the previous administration. He won’t even discuss the “Cookie Bandit” fallout. Wood prefers to put a positive spin on his administration.
Wood said that he was well acquainted with the operations of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office and had busted his share of bad guys. He started working as a deputy for Sheriff Bert DeLara in 1992. After that, he worked his way through the ranks with Sheriff Ray Rivera. He ran unsuccessfully for sheriff against Trujillo in 2006 and then worked for the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office until he was elected Sandoval County Sheriff in 2010.
Wood said that he has been streamlining operations to make the department more efficient by moving his captains and lieutenants out of the field and into the office, where they can take care of administrative tasks, do grant-writing, and coordinate with other agencies. Sergeants are in charge of shifts, and the paperwork is streamlined through the chain of command.
Wood credits Undersheriff Carl Wiese with improving communications with other law enforcement agencies. “Previously, communication was not there,” Wood said, “and the Sheriff’s Office always tried to go it alone.” The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. has been disbanded because there had been insufficient personnel to staff the team full-time. The Rio Rancho Police Department has agreed to provide a S.W.A.T. team when it is needed.
Wood says that his deputies go through thorough background checks and are encouraged to treat the public with respect and dignity. They try to get to know the people in all parts of our huge rural county. They are encouraged to use discretion to avoid violent confrontations and adhere to the principles of community policing.
Deputies are instructed to patrol off of the main roads and to walk around places of business. Wood says that property crime rates, especially in Placitas, are “not bad right now.”
“Our main focus is not traffic control,” he said. “We try to make sure drivers follow speed limits, especially in school zones. We have doubled the monthly D.W.I. arrests. If you get caught speeding, you get a ticket, but we don’t have quotas and are not out to generate revenue with speeding tickets.”
Wood said that he is spending a lot of time talking to people about the wild horses in Placitas and that he is at a loss about what to do about the situation, knowing that the horses are an important and emotional issue. “I have jurisdiction to round up the horses if we get complaints, or if they become a traffic hazard, but I don’t want to do that.” He said that in the event of a round-up, the horses would be moved to another range and not sold for slaughter.
Wood said he plans to have his public information officer, Sergeant Jessica Mascarenas, submit monthly press releases to the Signpost to keep residents informed.
Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade members Shannon Farrell and Jerry Malloy.
On scene with PVFB
This month meet Jerry and Shannon. Jerry Malloy has been a PVFB volunteer, on and off, for a total of fourteen years. He is a Firefighter I, and on the medical side, has Firefighter First Aid. For the last five years, Jerry has taken on the important job of purchasing, and following up on, orders of firefighting equipment, medical supplies, and rehab materials. Jerry’s awards include Rookie of the Year, and in 2006, the Chief’s Award. He is very active in PVFB Inc., which handles donation funds. He is a real asset to the department for all of his work behind the scene. Jerry remembers a time when the department had only one old engine and an Army surplus tender. While fighting a house fire, the volunteers ran out of water. They started throwing snowballs at the house. He marvels at the changes in training and the quality of equipment since he began in 1979.
Jerry and his wife Sunny have two children and seven grandchildren. He is a retired Professional Engineer. One of his hobbies is amateur radio.
Shannon Farrell has been a member of our career staff for six years. She is cross-trained as a Firefighter I and a Paramedic. Shannon previously worked for Albuquerque Ambulance for twelve years. When she is not working, she enjoys bow hunting, mountain biking, cooking, planting, and dog training. She has lived in Colorado, Ohio, Spain, and Turkey. She and her husband, David, live in Albuquerque.
Shannon has had several memorable calls. She remembers arriving on a scene where a man was hiding from the police in a dumpster. When the officers got him out, he was covered in green chile and lard. Shannon and her crew hosed him down as he stripped off his clothing. Late one night, on another call, a car fire, Shannon and her partner arrived on scene. She got on her bunker gear, grabbed a hose and started to attack the fire. She wondered why her partner was just standing there. After the fire was out, she asked why he hadn’t suited up and helped. He smiled and told her she put on his bunker gear and hers was much too small for him.
Shannon has put on numerous medical trainings for the volunteer staff. At a medical scene this year, I noticed that she was standing back and letting her new rookie partner do everything. When asked why she was not participating, she responded that she was watching, but he needed to build his confidence. She is a good paramedic and a good teacher.
PVFB Reminder: New Mexico has had many wildfires this year. It is best to stay out of these areas. In a rainstorm, the flow rate can be ten times larger than normal. The fire could have weakened, or killed, a great number of trees and these can fall without warning. Trees that still have green needles may have had their root system burnt away. Trees that have been completely consumed can leave a “stump hole,” which may not be visible because of ash and dirt. Stepping into one of these can easily break an ankle. And they can even have hot embers in the hole. In some areas, mudslides are not a matter of “if” but “when.” It is safer to wait one or two years before going into these burnt forest areas.
Arrests made in murder investigation
—Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office
In the early morning hours of August 5, Francisco Landavazo, age 31, was found deceased off of US Highway 550 at approximately mile marker 38. Landavaso was found in an arroyo by a passerby. This death was treated as a homicide pending the results from the Office of the Medical Investigator. The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police served search warrants in this case looking for leads. Persons of interest were identified and were sought for questioning.
On August 15, two subjects were arrested and charged in connection to the homicide investigation. Mark Romero was arrested in Bernalillo, NM. Freddy Silva was arrested in Algodones. Both were charged with False Imprisonment, Kidnapping, and Armed Robbery.
Mark Romero was arrested with the assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department’s Gang Unit. Freddy Silva was arrested after being located by fugitive recovery agents. While executing a search warrant at the location of Silva’s arrest, two stolen vehicles, four weapons, and narcotics were found. Macario Romero, a possible relative of Mark Romero, was arrested for Possession of Two Stolen Vehicles. Additional charges are pending.