As long as the news stories fall his way, Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan loves the press. Criticize one of his deputies for using a Taser on a high school student or another deputy for abusing a store manager, without cause, and he seeks ways to limit access to documents, reports, recordings and logs.
Such was the case Aug. 6 when the E-911 Board entered illegally into closed session to appease Lujan’s desire to curtail access to the E-911 dispatch logs.
The Board ostensibly went into closed session to discuss pending litigation. However, once behind closed doors Lujan began whining about the Rio Grande SUN getting access to information before him.
Our Sheriff has two problems. First, he can’t stop access to an original record of entry, to wit a 911 log. Second, you can’t discuss such things in closed session. Closing access to a public document is illegal and should be discussed in open session.
Clearly Lujan did this behind closed doors because he feared the blow-back, which he is now receiving here. If our state Attorney General’s office is half of what it claims to be, he’ll hear from someone there also.
Lujan tried to go the “officer safety” route, without even lame anecdotal evidence.
Our use of the dispatch log to create the police blotter and search for incident reports on the more important calls has never endangered one of his deputies. This is simply one of Lujan’s tired efforts to make our job more difficult.
The Sheriff’s Office is currently about 45 days late on several public document requests, including training reports, incident reports and overdose death reports from 2018. This is a violation of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act.
It’s interesting that documents such as these flowed freely and timely prior to Deputy Joey Aguino threatening the store manager at Chimayó Family Dollar and the SUN writing about the encounter. It’s insane that he would think for a moment media should not write about Deputy Jeremy Barnes using a Taser on a student.
We suggest he claw his way back to the right side of the law, release the reports and focus more on being the Sheriff and less on trying to breach first amendment rights. He doesn’t have to like us, he just has to do his job and allow his subordinates to do theirs.