Dear City Council members of Roswell: I, a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen have many things about Roswell that I believe need to change.
But the most important one is keeping our city safe.
Roswell has one of the highest crimes rates in the country. We have more violent crime than Albuquerque (in some areas), yet they have a population that far exceeds ours.
There were 3,688 calls for service to the Roswell Police Department alone in the month of July this year.
That’s 119 calls per day, 40 calls per shift, per day. And with only a handful of officers per shift, it is making responding quickly and efficiently difficult.
Crime in Roswell is on the rise. Majorly, on the rise.
From Jan. 1, 2012, through July 31, 2012, there were 24,638 calls/activities with the RPD responding.
From Jan. 1, 2013, through July 31, 2013, there were 30,541 calls/activities with the RPD responding.
That is an increase of almost 24 percent.
In less than one year, there is a 24 percent increase in crime/calls to RPD.
Yet, the city does not see fit to change how it treats the officers in the Roswell Police Department that sacrifice so much, for so little.
For example, the city of Farmington has a smaller population than that of Roswell. But, they’re hiring officers at a good rate and here’s what they’re offering:
Officer (entry level and lateral).
$10,000 in-state lateral (NM certified) hiring bonus.
$5,000 out-of-state lateral hiring bonus.
$3,000 entry level hiring bonus.
— 4-10 work schedule.
— 20 year retirement (70 percent of high 3 year average).
— Education incentives.
— Tuition reimbursement.
— Take home vehicles.
— On site fitness center.
— Life and health insurance.
— Deferred compensation plan.
— Vacation starting at 4 weeks/year.
You read that correctly, a hiring bonus of thousands of dollars.
And four weeks of vacation straight out of the gate.
Alamogordo Police Department gets 10 days of paid vacation per year, then it goes up to 20.
They also offer a sign-on bonus of $3,600 if you’re a certified officer coming into their department.
Carlsbad offers 10 days of paid vacation per year from years 1-5 upon hiring.
Uncertified officers start at $19.97/hour. Certified officers start at $22.27/hour.
Why are our officers not being paid accordingly for all that they do? They’re on duty 24/7/365.
If they’re not in uniform, they are still on-call, no matter what time of day it is, where they are, or if it is a holiday.
Officers for Roswell start at about $16/hour. That’s outrageously low compared to the rest of the state!
They also receive no incentive pay for taking extra courses to further themselves (Becoming a detective, etc.)
Officers are being hired and leaving at an exponential rate. Officers that have dedicated 5-plus years of service to the department are leaving in droves.
Roswell is hiring officers and expecting them to work for a city with one of the highest crime rates in the country (per capita), but work for the pay of a mall security guard.
There are many citizens that would agree that our police department is our first and only line of defense.
When anything goes wrong, who do you call? The Roswell Police Department.
They do what they can with what they have and the personnel they have. And right now, it isn’t enough. Officers are drastically underpaid for how much they have to work and how much crime they have to deal with in Roswell. This city would greatly benefit from acknowledging that our officers are our watchmen and we need them. Need.
They are a necessity to keep chaos and disorder at bay. And paying them with scraps and tidbits isn’t going to make the cut. Officers will continue to get hired to receive their free certification, then leave for any other department the first chance they have to “jump ship.” Why? Because their pay is low. Way too low. Many officers struggle paying the rent. Many officers live very frugally and are not sure how they’ll make ends meet this month.
And our city continues to focus on the golf courses and alien-based tourism. Tourism is important. I completely understand that. Golf courses are not a priority.
Wouldn’t more tourists come if Roswell went from one of the most dangerous cities, to one of the least dangerous? Wouldn’t tourists realize that they could come here, spend plenty of money, recommend it to their friends/families/co-workers, if Roswell was safer for them to be here?
Roswell was once a beacon in the southeastern part of New Mexico. So much to do, so much to see and with happy residents. It was a safe town where you didn’t need to lock your doors. Now, Roswell is the example by which crime-ridden criminal havens are measured.
Let’s bring this city back. Let’s take our city back. Help our law enforcement officers. Pay more. Offer more.
Mrs. Janinè Heltzel-Armijo
Business owner and concerned citizen