Property crimes down because drug arrests are up, says Santa Fe Police

Posted at: 05/13/2013 7:26 PM
Updated at: 05/14/2013 11:00 AM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4


Property crime rates in Santa Fe have dropped to an all-time low.  Police say much of the success is directly linked to an increase in drug-related arrests, but the police chief claims a city councilor is trying to step in and change the department's drug unit.

All the confusion stems from a working draft resolution.  City Councilor Bill Dimas is proposing it, but he says it is being misinterpreted.

The resolution is intended to help take illegal drugs off the streets of Santa Fe.  Dimas says there is nothing controversial about that.

"We are encouraging, and I stress the word encouraging, to reestablish the narcotics unit within the Santa Fe Police Department," Dimas said.

That is where it gets messy.

Right now there are three detectives and a sergeant who work with the Region III Task Force, tackling drug activity in four different counties.

"One of the misconceptions is our officers that work for the region don't work for the department or aren't working in the city, and that's just not true," SFPD Spokeswoman Celina Westervelt said.  "Since July, they've gone out of the city maybe twice to help State Police with different investigations."

Dimas says he is not trying to disrupt the work officers are currently doing with the Region III Task Force; instead, if the resources are available, he would simply like more officers devoted to a narcotics unit within the city.

"We're not trying to take any officers away from the Region III Task Force, that is not the intent," Dimas said.  "It's just a way to get our entire community involved."

"Would we love the additional resource? Yes. Would we love to have that team within a department? Yes. But we are scared that we don't want to have to pull them from property crimes, pull them from street crimes, pull that personnel from the responsibilities they're already doing and working well," Westervelt said.

There is no scheduled date for when the official resolution will be re-introduced to council.