Rio Grande SUN cops and courts reporter Tabitha Clay brings us several stories this week detailing problems in the Española Police Department, an aggressive Rio Arriba County deputy and a Tierra Amarilla jail guard who apparently fell for the cliché bad boy and had inmates beat a man who didn’t testify against her amor, but was believed to.

    It takes us back to former news editor Kevin Bersett, who is quoted in the documentary “The Sun Never Sets,” as saying something along the lines of people saying what happens here happens everywhere. Bersett says he’s lived in many small towns in America. He cites crime and drug related statistics and says, “No, it’s not like this everywhere. We’re the worst, so it’s not the same everywhere.”

    Please save your emails, nasty anonymous phone calls and cowardly posts on our website. We’re not picking on anyone. When a public employee doesn’t perform according to their contract, there are consequences.

    When city police Detective Ernest Saucedo decided to make an arrest in Velarde and take another city cop with him, he was wrong. U.S. Marshals said he was wrong and the FBI said he was wrong. There should be consequences for that.

    Perhaps he wasn’t the best choice for the joint task force. However, we’re not sure there is someone in the Department who can keep his or her ego in check to the point they can be effective, save Danny Pacheco.

    What makes it worse is that Deputy Chief Roger Jimenez again defends an indefensible position by first lying about Saucedo’s actions, then back-tracking and trying to spin the arrest.

    “(Saucedo’s) brand new to the task force, and he was working off the list from the FBI, so not a big deal, we covered it,” Jimenez told Clay. No he wasn’t working off an FBI list and what the heck does “we covered it” mean. Surely he’s referring to a kitty litter box.

    Our interim chief has not weighed in on the issue yet. He’s too busy trying to get his Department in line with a typical State Police policy: don’t talk to anyone. New to the bottleneck efforts of anyone coming out of State Police: media must meet any cop being interviewed in the Department’s training room. That’s a room that must be vacant most of the time.

    Then we have Rio Arriba County Detention Center guard Santana Bustamante who fell for bad boy Rufino Martinez. Martinez is believed to have shot Donald Salazar in October 2018. Just who you want to take home to meet the folks.

    Salazar would not testify against Martinez in District court but when he ended up back in the Detention Center, Bustamante is alleged to have encouraged some of the inmates to beat him up. She still works at the jail.

    Although the story isn’t in this week’s issue, our former police chief Louis Carlos has a tort claim filed against him by Cody Lee, a man our chief allegedly roughed up while pulling him out of a squad car, while hand-cuffed and taking him to the ground. A tort claim is a predecessor to a lawsuit. There’s a photo on page B4.

    The good deputy chief, who was hired by Carlos, again backs the former leader saying it was a good take-down. We’re guessing Lee and his lawyer disagree. We’re also guessing this is going to cost the city some money.

    Bad hires always cost employers. In this case the employer is us, the taxpayers.

    Lastly, we have a Rio Arriba County Deputy Joseph Aquino who apparently didn’t like a Family Dollar employee watching him arrest someone. After Aquino finished arresting a man in the parking lot he told E-911 dispatchers he was going into the store to “make contact” with someone inside.

    “Make contact” equated to Aquino approaching a man who had done nothing wrong and saying, “Why you trippin’ out, fool?” Good community police work.

    It goes from bad to worse as the man tries to stand his ground and of course that’s always deemed “disrespectful” to cops. It never makes sense how they can be disrespectful on initial approach and then say they’re being disrespected. The adage is it’s earned not given to you because you wear a uniform.

    Aquino had to finally admit he was wrong but not before trying to justify his actions to Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Robert Salazar who tried to turn it into a learning moment. And kudos to Salazar for his efforts.

    All these instances are training issues. Surely Saucedo knows he had no business going to Velarde. He needs a reminder of the policies. Disciplinary action is in order.

    Our jail guard violated a policy, which states guards don’t fraternize with inmates. Disciplinary action is in order.

    Our former chief can’t be fixed but the lapel video should be reviewed by everyone in that vacant training room in the City Police Department.

    Sgt. Salazar already addressed Aquino’s issues. We feel certain Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan doubled down on that.

(2) comments

Same Ol Same Ol

With all due respect, Tecolote, I think you're missing the point with regard to Aquino. In this case, as the old saying goes, "One 'oh, sh--' wipes out a thousand atta boy's". What if he'd actually tazed the young man? Or worse yet, shot him? Should the officer be excused and the lawsuit handily paid off because the officer may have PTSD issues? May I ask why you're guessing about PTSD issues? Do you know something that would be better brought to the attention of the chief and the city rather than aired online? If such issues are present, regardless of his sterling past, and with all due respect to either the officer's police veteran and/or armed services veteran status (I don't know him so I can't really say) Aquino should be stand-up enough to say, "hey, maybe I shouldn't be doing this kind of work anymore if I can be so easily agitated." Again, not to diss the young man, I don't know him. Which brings up a point I think all law enforcement agencies should consider - psychologicals for all active duty cops every five years (or less, if the dept decides) regardless of rank. It might prove to be money well spent if it prevents even one tort or lawsuit. To paraphrase well-known author retired LT COL Dave Grossman, "Wolves (bad guys) hunger for aggression and look everywhere for it, most especially amongst the sheep (the general law-abiding public); a sheep dog (law enforcement) also hungers for aggression but holds tight reign on this inner hunger because he loves those he is charged to protect - the sheep dog would NEVER think to harm the sheep, because he knows if he steps over the line and does so, he is nothing more than a wolf."


Kudos for straight words. I would guess, in Aquino’s, case, that there are PTSD issues. He has years of honorable service to Rio Arriba county. Any law-abiding citizen who criticizes law enforcement might consider participating in a Saturday night ride along and witnessing humanity at its very worst.

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