Record Staff Writer
The Roswell City Council Police Committee welcomed new Police Attorney Paul Sanchez at their meeting on Monday. Sanchez gave the committee an overview of his experience, which includes service in the military and with the New Mexico State Police. After law school, Sanchez served as prosecuting attorney in Chaves County 5th District, Deputy District Attorney in Taos and Chief Deputy District Attorney in Raton.
Councilor Jeanine Best (Ward 3) asked where he would be housed and about his hours. Sanchez replied that his offices would be located at the Police Department and the contracted hours are from 16 to 20 hours per week. When Best asked what would happen if the attorney were needed on off-duty hours, City Administrator Larry Fry pointed out that he would be on-call.
Roswell Police Department Deputy Chief Brad McFadden reported that the RPD remains 15 officers down, with two new hires and six in process. Committee Chair Councilor Savino Sanchez Jr. (Ward 4) said he’d received comments from his constituents about the removal of pictures from the RPD Facebook page. McFadden said that Facebook had specifically requested the pictures’ removal because they had received complaints. He said that they plan to create a section on the RPD website, which is still under construction for photos.
Councilor Sanchez then presented a resolution to committee about the definition of marriage as: “The formal union of a man and woman, recognized by our creator and the law of this state, by which they become husband and wife.” The resolution would have rejected same-sex marriages. He told the committee: “We are getting pushed and pushed in society … and this is where I take a stand.”
Councilor Barry Foster (Ward 5) professed his agreement with the basic tenant. “I can speak for myself as an individual, but as a councilor I can’t speak for my constituents.” He said it was not for the city to dictate morals or disenfranchise a certain portion of the population.
Best agreed: “It’s not for me to tell my Ward what to do if you are of the rainbow color.” She said that this resolution would not only risk segregating members of the community, but could possibly alienate people outside of the city.
Fry clarified the difference between a resolution, a policy, and an ordinance which is an enforceable law. City Attorney Barbara Patterson noted that the resolution could be a violation of New Mexico’s human rights act and, therefore, actionable in a court of law.
When asked his opinion, Police Chief Al Solis said: “I understand what you’re trying to do, but please do not get the police department involved in this.”
In the end, the resolution did not pass, with Foster and Best standing firm on the grounds of personal freedoms.
Sanchez concluded: “In my heart, this is what I believe and I can stand before God and say, ‘You asked me to do it and I did it.’”