Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan made moves to end the police blotter at the Aug. 6 Española/Rio Arriba County E-911 Board meeting.
Currently, the E911 Dispatch Center sends a call incident media report log daily to local news sources or members of the public who have requested the information. The log includes every call Dispatch received, as well as notes about how law enforcement responded to the call.
The weekly police blotter that appears in the Rio Grande SUN is written from the call incident media report logs.
Media logs appeared on the agenda for the meeting as a new business action item, with no description of the issue or the proposed action to be taken.
When asked prior to the meeting what the agenda item was concerning, Dispatch Director Petra Gutierrez said the item was added to the agenda by Lujan, but declined to comment further.
The Board went into executive session to discuss pending litigation, but multiple sources who attended the closed-door meeting said the media logs were actually the topic of discussion.
The Open Meetings Act requires that the topic to be discussed in a closed or executive session be included in the original motion to adjourn to closed session. The topics to be discussed must also be listed on the agenda for executive or closed session.
The media logs were not included as a topic of discussion in the motion to adjourn to executive session. They were also not included on the agenda as a closed discussion item.
An Open Meetings Act complaint filed with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office following the meeting is still pending.
When the Board returned from executive session, Lujan explained his plan concerning the public information.
“I was going to ask that we stop sending media logs out,” Lujan said. “That was my idea.”
He did not say what had changed his mind since the beginning of the meeting.
Lujan did say he will be working with Dispatch Center officials to create a shortened version of the log that simply states that there was a call, what kind of call it was, and what address officers were dispatched to.
“Beyond that, if you need more information,” Lujan said, “Pick whichever agency is handling it and get it from them.”
Although Lujan repeatedly said the change in the logs was for officer safety, he could not list any recent incidents that might have prompted the sudden review.
“(We will) see exactly where we can amend (the media logs) and run this through the county attorney and make sure we’re not giving out too much information because there’s an issue with officer safety on some of these calls that are going out,” Lujan said. “We don’t want too much information getting out.”
Lujan initially agreed to provide additional details concerning the alleged officer safety concerns after the meeting, but then backtracked and said any information would have to come from Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Randy Sanches.
Sanches did not return repeated calls or emails for comment as of press time.
Española Police Department interim chief Roger Jimenez said following the meeting that in his tenure at the Department there had been no concerns involving officer safety as a result of the release of media logs.
Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Jeremy Apodaca also said he could not recall any time that the media log had put officers in danger.
Lujan has made multiple moves to block public access to information since the May 29 publication of a story involving Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeremy Barnes.
In the days following the publication, Lujan blocked reporter access to the interior offices at his station. At the time Sanches said there had always been a policy of keeping the public out of the back offices.
In June, Barnes, on orders from Lujan, threatened to arrest a SUN reporter at the scene of a fatal accident in Hernandez.
The Office has also failed to respond to multiple public records requests within the time allotted by state law.
Lujan did not return calls for comment following the meeting.