Since Nov. 24, eight law-enforcement officers with a rank of deputy chief or higher at three departments based in the Santa Fe area are no longer in those positions for a variety of reasons, creating a lot of transition within area police forces. The number is nine if you count DPS Secretary as a law enforcement officer.
(And when you think about it, who wouldn’t count recently-retired John Denko as a cop no matter what he’s doing? I think Denko could be at home baking a pie right now and it would only seem right to describe him as a cop baking a pie.)
Anyway, here is a breakdown of nine recent shake-ups in the Santa Fe area with a brief explanation of each position change:
Santa Fe Police Department
- Aric Wheeler: The Santa Fe police chief since June 2009 stepped down from that position Tuesday and was replaced by interim Chief Raymond Rael. Wheeler, who cited family obligations as a reason for his move, received a “no-confidence” vote from the police union Feb. 25 and has drawn criticism for soaring burglary rates, which include a record number of residential burglaries in 2010.
- Robin Contreras: One of Wheeler’s two deputy chiefs, Contreras turned in paperwork Tuesday evening to retire from the department. He, like Wheeler and fellow Deputy Chief Abram Anaya, received a vote of “no confidence” from the police union Feb. 25. A close friend of Wheeler, Contreras will work his last day next week, according to City Manager Robert Romero. He was replaced Wednesday morning by former Lt. William Johnson.
- Abram Anaya: Wheeler’s second deputy chief was demoted to the rank of lieutenant March 4, one week after the department’s union voted “no confidence” in him, Wheeler and Contreras. Anaya, who had been deputy chief since June 2009, was replaced by Deputy Chief Gillian Alessio. Wheeler at the time said the demotion was not a punishment for Anaya as much as a promotion for Alessio, so she can fully utilize her financial skills to help the department’s ailing budget.
New Mexico Department of Public Safety
- John Denko: The former state police chief and Santa Fe police chief retired in December after serving as Gov. Bill Richardson’s secretary of the Department of Public Safety. His replacement is Gordon Eden, who was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Eden won Senate confirmation during the recent legislative session.
New Mexico State Police
- Faron Segotta: The New Mexico State Police chief retired in December after 28 years. Eden has not yet named a replacement.
- Ted Branch: The adjutant chief of state police retired in December after more than 20 years on duty.
- Scott Ford and Jimmy Salmon: The two state police deputy chiefs retired in December after more than 20 years on duty.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department
- Greg Solano: The former Santa Fe County sheriff resigned from his position Nov. 24 after admitting he embezzled county-owned property and sold it on eBay for personal gain. He has since been arrested and charged with fraud and embezzlement, and he awaits trial in state District Court. He was replaced by Robert Garcia, who was scheduled to take over the job Jan. 1, anyway.