RATON — Raton Police Chief John Garcia recently sat down for an interview to discuss the real life issue of crime solving, explaining it takes time to investigate an incident and gather evidence a prosecutor can use for successful presentation of a criminal case. Some residents of the community have voiced frustrations concerning how long it takes a case to be solved and adjudicated. Garcia noted one of the problems is simply a lack of support from the community especially in such cases as recent BB gun vandalism. He said they have a suspect in that case and have talked to him, but without solid evidence they are unable to take the case to the district attorney. Part of the problem is that witnesses are not cooperating in this case and others, like the Henry Trueba murder case. The FBI has been in Raton conducting polygraph tests for that case. So far the department is still waiting on those results. The department is also waiting on results of lab tests for DNA and other forensic evidence from the state crime lab. In the shooting case in north Raton, one suspect has been arrested in Raton, and two others are in custody in Alabama awaiting
extradition to New Mexico. This cases is now in the hands of the district attorney’s office. Chief Garcia is pleased to see neighbors are getting together to create neighborhood watch programs. But the question still has to be asked, why hasn’t the support of the community been there all along? Why has it taken this kind of program to get the community involved, especially based on the community’s frustration with the department? Once investigations have been completed and turned over to the court system, it is in their hands. Officers have 10 days to get things to the district attorney to be filed yet that is sometimes a difficult thing to do as evidence isn’t back from the state crime lab or witnesses haven’t been interviewed. So a case will be dismissed and refiled later. The process then starts over again and residents, if they want, may track the progress of a specific case by logging onto NMcourts.com. Garcia also talked about the fact that many of the criminals they are dealing with are those who come from a background of families with a criminal history. The pendulum has swung so far the other direction that discipline in the schools and the community has been lost and he noted we need to find a happy medium to get this resolved. Garcia said he thinks some of the problems are generational, but support is coming around. He noted he has several new officers on the force. The problem there is getting the officers trained and give them the experience to be a good officer. He said the department is still short two officers, and he hasn’t received any applications in about two months. New and potential officers undergo testing, and if accepted then undergo a three-month training program with a field training officer, followed by a four month academy at the state police training center that must be completed within their first year on the job. Raton is not the only community that is dealing with these problems. Garcia said if the community will come together and work to take our town back, things will turn around. It is up to all of the residents of Raton to get involved with their police department in a positive way.