With the June 5 date for Chaves County’s 2018 primary election approaching, the Chaves County Federated Republican Women provided the opportunity for those running for sheriff the platform to lay out their ideas and the opportunity to ask the community for their vote.
During the Chaves County Republican Women’s luncheon Wednesday afternoon, challenger Mike Herrington and Chaves County Sheriff Britt Snyder were each given seven minutes to talk about themselves, what they stand for and what they plan to do if elected — or re-elected — as sheriff.
Herrington, a former lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office who retired just last year, spoke first by telling the community how he had been born and raised in Roswell.
“I have five generations of family here,” Herrington said. “My grandfather, who’s sitting right back here, is 86 years old, and my dad, me, my son and my 10 grandkids. I have one more on the way, so we can’t afford TV.”
The crowd laughed.
“That is what I’m about,” Herrington said. “I’m about this community, I’m about my family, and I’m about all of you.”
Herrington, who occasionally referenced a page of notes in his hand, noted his seven-minute time limit with the audience.
“So first, I want to thank God for putting me on this path,” Herrington said. “God — every day I go out into this community — puts somebody in my path that teaches me that we have great people in this community. I also want to thank every one of you for coming out here and supporting such a great cause. We’re here for the same reason.”
The challenger also thanked the Chaves County Republican Women, his campaign members and his supporters.
“I also want you to know that I’m going to do what’s in the best interest of this county, and I have already proven that,” Herrington said, pointing attention to a set of photos behind him. “If you look over here by the flag, you’re gonna see my pictures. I served in the United States Air Force, I was discharged honorably from the Air Force. I also have gone out in this community and taught kids they have to abide by rules, and that there are consequences if you don’t abide by rules — and that’s being a referee.”
Members of the crowd smiled.
“And the other thing I have done is I have served this community for 22 years as a deputy sheriff,” he said. “During that time, I was a patrolman. I worked my way to sergeant. I then worked my way to lieutenant. During that time as lieutenant, I supervised both the patrol division and the criminal investigation division.
“During my 22 years of service, I also was a supervisor over the court security division, the patrol division, the civil division, the criminal investigation division, and the school resource officer division.”
Herrington also added he had supervised all DWI roadblocks.
“Having worked at all the divisions of Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, I know what needs to be done to make things better,” he said. “My career has been a success because I treat people fair and with respect. As a sheriff, there are several things that I’m going to do.”
Herrington said, if elected sheriff, he’s going to implement community policing.
“I will be personally involved with this by going out into the community, talking and listening,” he said. “Listening is important to the people of this county. You have to hear what’s going on, you have to be out there with them and know what’s happening. I believe it is important the people of Chaves County know who their sheriff is and also know that he has their best interest first.”
Herrington also explained that the position of sheriff is the lead law enforcement officer in the county.
“I believe the sheriff should be held accountable for all of Chaves County, which includes Roswell, Dexter, Hagerman, Lake Arthur, Dunken and all 6,000 square miles between the borders of this county,” he said. “I also believe it is important that all chiefs of every law enforcement entity in Chaves County meet with the sheriff at least once a month to form a plan to make Chaves County a safer place.”
Herrington also suggested the Sheriff’s Office should have a close working relationship with not just police agencies within Chaves County, but the surrounding counties in an effort to solve crimes.
“I will create a burglary task force, which will include all agencies within Chaves County, and I will ask the surrounding counties to also participate, because the same criminals that are terrorizing Chaves County are also terrorizing their counties,” Herrington said. “I have learned that burglaries are usually committed by people in one county who often try to get rid of it in another.
“Many burglaries are committed by known drug users to support their own drug habit. By targeting burglars, we also target the drug problem.”
The challenger reaffirmed the importance of having a good relationship with the community.
“Crime is always going to be there,” Herrington said. “However, we can tackle crime by establishing rapport. It is important to establish rapport. Because without people, we do not solve crimes. No matter how good of a detective you think you are, or a policeman that you are, you cannot solve crimes without somebody coming to you and telling you what’s going on.”
Herrington then stated, if elected, he would ensure deputies would be provided extensive training and proper equipment.
“What I mean by that is, I want them to have the best of everything,” he said. “I want them to be heard. I want them to have their weapons, and also the training to be able to go out there and deal with people in this community so that they can save the lives of the people they have to protect, as well as come home every evening.
“That’s my main goal. I want these guys to come home every evening.”
Herrington also made it clear how he would defend the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
Herrington said another important goal for him as sheriff would be to appoint school resource officers in county schools that are without a police presence.
After he was told his seven minutes were up, Herrington made a few last remarks.
“In a 39-man department, every man counts,” he said. “That means that, within 6,000 square miles, the sheriff, the chief deputies, the lieutenants, the detectives, everybody needs to be out on the streets. (They) need to be out working. Need to be out patrolling.”
Snyder then spoke next, staying behind a lectern, in contrast to Herrington.
The sheriff began by thanking his wife, Jean, as well as the Chaves County Republic Women.
“I really enjoy these meetings and this crowd because I think we all think alike,” Snyder said, preparing to mention his experience as sheriff. “I have fulfilled my responsibilities within our budget, and we make the most of what we’ve got. Over the last three years, We’ve reduced property crimes an average of 41 percent in our unincorporated parts of the county.”
Snyder also gave his own definition of what it meant to be sheriff.
“The sheriff’s primary responsibility is the unincorporated part of Chaves County,” Snyder said. “If you live in the city of Roswell, you have 90 city police officers that help provide you protection. If you live outside the city, you have nobody — you have the sheriff. That’s all you’ve got. It’s important that the sheriff’s office cover those areas.”
Snyder noted that drunk driving arrests are up on average and that most of those arrests have been made by one designated deputy, Dave Bradshaw.
“Many of our DWI arrests lead to arrests for drug possession, all kinds of things,” Snyder said. “We’ve got to be stopping cars, and that’s very, very important.”
Snyder also mentioned the success of the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, which he rejoined three years ago when he took over as sheriff.
“That group is targeting our top-level drug dealers, and they’re doing an amazing job,” he said. “That has also helped lower our property crimes significantly.”
Snyder mentioned how he’s worked to improve mental health services in the community and has provided specialized training for his deputies in dealing with individuals going through mental health issues.
Snyder said he’s also worked hard to improve the relationships with our other law enforcement agencies.
“Not an easy thing to do, but we have got to work together,” Snyder said. “In the 29 years I’ve been in law enforcement here in Chaves County, I don’t think the relationships have ever been better than they are right now, and I’m proud of that.”
Snyder said his office would also cooperate federal authorities who enforce immigration laws.
“I’m opposed to sanctuary city policies, I think that just breeds crime. It brings crime to your community. You just don’t need any more crime.
“We need to secure our border. We certainly should not be importing criminals from other countries. We have enough that were born and raised here,” Snyder said, the audience again laughing. “Sorry, but we do.”
Snyder said he has served as a legislative liaison for the executive committee for the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association for the last two years and fought for the Second Amendment.
Snyder said, in the next four years as sheriff, he also wants to improve on school security.
“That’s something we’ve got to do,” Snyder said. “The attacks on our schools are out of control, so I want to help with that. I’ll ask for more deputies to try to help with that. That’s going to be a fight between the county commission and I.”
Snyder said he would also continue to target domestic violence, drug dealers, drunk drivers and people who commit crimes against children.
“When there’s a violent crime in our community, I know that I have to be the advocate and the voice of those victims,” Snyder said. “That’s important to me. If the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t stand up for them, who will?
“This race is not about who has the prettiest campaign material or who has the most signs, or who’s raised the most money. I think this race is about who’s the proven person to stand up for their community, and I believe that person is me.”
Before he ended, Snyder asked for those in attendance to pray for the county’s first responders, as well as those in the armed forces.
“Our 22-year-old son is deployed to the Middle East right now in the Air Force,” Snyder said. “So please — please say a prayer for him.”
Early voting for the primary election is set to take place from May 19 to June 2. Election Day is on Tuesday, June 5.
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.