A recent meeting of the Bernalillo County Commission was like the classic-
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales didn’t seem to be dreaming of a white Christmas but may have had a secret vision of dozens of new deputies because the Commission stuffed his stocking with funding for 10 new sworn deputies. This will bring the number of sworn deputies up to 314. To start up the new hires, the county must come up with an additional $1.3 million for the first year and then add about $900,000 to the annual $50 million sheriff’s budget. The new money for the added positions will come from the gross receipts tax increase the county implemented last year.
Sheriff Gonzales said a couple of the new hires will be school resource officers. For the rest of the positions, the department will look at countywide calls for service and add positions in areas where they will help most. In response to a question about requiring deputies to wear body cameras, Gonzales said he was not opposed to them, but before a decision is made there will be a full review of the department’s use of force procedures. “We have received different studies and we met with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and they even have their concerns about body cameras,” Gonzales said. He also gave a shout out to the media to take a ride along with a deputy sometime. We at Weekly Alibi are going to take him up on that offer; stay tuned for coverage of our local police ride-alongs!
Metropolitan Detention Center Chief Greg Rees took a verbal shiner from Commissioner Wayne Johnson, but still got a chunk of his jail wish list without Johnson’s vote. Rees, along with County Manager Julie Morgas Baca, made the pitch for 9 new employees and the reclassification of 76 part-time employees to permanent, full-time gigs at the jail. “We don’t have enough correctional officers to staff the posts,” Morgas Baca said. “Our corrections officers are tired of not knowing if they are going to be able to go home at the end of their shift.” Commissioner Johnson had the line of the night when he said he was “concerned he was being smoked again” in reference to being told previously, and erroneously, that overtime was going to go down after new officers were approved. He also questioned the need for more officers since the number of inmates dropped from nearly 3,000 a couple years ago to about 1,100 currently. Rees reminded Johnson that it was not the administrator that smoked him before. Rees said the detention center needs 250 officers due to schedule rotations. He said there is currently an unusually high number of officers, about 130, taking some part of their Family Medical Leave Act. Morgas Baca said the county has never had the luxury of the jail being at full staff. These changes will add a little more than $851,000 each year to the already $64 million-dollar annual detention center budget.
Some people get a day named after them, if they do something cool. If you’re super cool like Don Perkins, then the Bernalillo County Commission will give you a whole year. Perkins is perhaps best known as a University of New Mexico football star who then went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys, but he’s more than that. Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins said there were very few people that the county names a whole year after. “You are one of those exceptional beings that really deserve this honor,” Hart Stebbins told the local football great.
Perkins came to New Mexico in 1959 to play with the Lobos, set 12 school records and garnered All American distinctions. While a Cowboy he collected six Pro Bowl honors. He had the fifth most rushing yards in NFL history when he retired in 1968. “I was small but I was afraid and when you are scared you run real fast,” he once said to a reporter about his speed.
It is what Perkins did off the field that earned a whole year being named after him. While playing for the Cowboys he helped change the organization’s segregation policies. He has worked tirelessly with the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, supported the Dismas House and is passionate about combating gang violence, with time and money. One way Perkins does this is to travel around the state giving solo, in-character performances of Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King, Jr. to youth groups.