Sheriff's Office Receives Grant for Specialized DWI Enforcement

The New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division (NMDOT) has provided a grant worth $189,000 to the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office (RASO) for three full time DWI officers. This grant will be utilized during the 2013 Federal Fiscal Year, which runs from October of 2012 to September of 2013. The County Commission, in compliance with NMDOT grant stipulations, has approved the disbursement of an additional $47,250, equaling a 25 percent portion. The County Commission is also granting monies to appropriate towards three new vehicles for the team amounting to approximately $72,000.

This effort is part of the Traffic Safety Division Enhanced Enforcement Project, which is designed to support DWI officers in the state’s highest risk counties. According to Leo Marquez, the Sheriff’s Office Executive Secretary, negotiations with NMDOT resulted in RASO receiving funding for three positions, when previously funded for only two. Further more, a six-month probation period is also in place stating that if the newly developed team shows to be effective within the county, funding for a fourth officer would be granted.

“This is really great news for us,” said Marquez. “This team is going to create visibility, which in turn, will hopefully produce awareness and lower DWI stats within our County. Our biggest concern is keeping the citizens safe and implementing this will provide one more avenue to do so. Our hopes are that crashes will be reduced and our roads will be safe.”

According to Matthew Vigil, the newly appointed DWI Sergeant, these specialized officers will not man during the normal RASO hours, but will implement highly flexible hours. This method provides opportunities  to create more strategic planning when operating check points, saturation patrols, community patrol, education outreach events and basic DWI monitoring during specialized times when risk is at its’ highest.

“I am very pleased with the County Commission,” said Marquez. “Their willingness to help us with this effort is much appreciated. Without this grant, we wouldn’t be able to target this on-going problem within our communities so effectively. Education, deterrence and visibility are all keys to addressing the County’s DWI problem and that’s exactly what this team is going to provide.”

-Erika L. Martinez