Socorro County Sheriff William Armijo is not running for election. The two men who hope to replace him have family ties to local law enforcement.
Republican Lee Armijo, Captain of the Sheriff’s Office, is a cousin of outgoing Sheriff Armijo. Democrat Demecio Silva is a cousin of Socorro’s new police chief, Angel Garcia.
The pair also want to change how the sheriff’s office patrols work to ensure a department presence in more areas of the community, but they have different strategies for doing that.
Armijo would like to direct traffic through problem areas to reduce speeding. He also regularly rotated county areas for officers to patrol during hybrid patrol shifts. Deputies would take calls from specific areas of the county for parts of their shifts and could work on reports during parts of their shifts. He wouldn’t send a single officer out on patrol.
He thinks the hybrid patrol model would make the ministry more accountable to the community and provide the flexibility needed for the small ministry.
Armijo will have been in law enforcement for 23 years as of January and has served as a narcotics detective, captain, senior deputy and regular deputy in the department. School safety and drugs are the main issues, Armijo said.
He thinks the department can work with the county and city to find a long-term way to fund a school resource officer.
“Drugs in Socorro are bad, but they are everywhere and not just in our community. It’s our state and our country that are really hit hard by these drugs,” Armijo said.
Armijo plans to work with the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Socorro to obtain certification under the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Zones program, which could bring additional training and funding to the area. .
Focusing on community policing is also part of Armijo’s plans to tackle drug sales and domestic violence in the county.
“You can solve a lot of crimes and locate a lot of drug activity just by talking to people,” Armijo said.
Armijo said the department is currently considering a retention grant that could give deputies additional money, as well as fund two additional positions. His other strategy for officer retention is to advocate for better compensation from the Socorro County Commission.
Demecio Silva worked for the sheriff’s office previously as a transportation officer and reserve deputy. He spent most of his career working for the county and then city government, where he was supervisor of the Socorro County Highways Department and Division Manager for the city.
Silva would have officers patrolling individually as needed so they can reach more parts of the county and make sure all officers learn all the roads in the county.
“If there are going to be two agents working for the day, I want a regular south and a regular north,” Silva said.
It also provides for officers to patrol on three shifts: day, middle and cemetery.
Like his opponent, Silva also believes drugs and working with schools are top priorities for the community.
“We need to get tough on crime, and we really need to get tough on drugs,” Silva said. “In no way are we going to stop drugs, but we have to start coming up with different ideas to slow it down, to snuff out the different drug dealers that we have in town.”
He thinks the sheriff’s department should help with active fire drills at local schools.
Silva would like to hire a grant writer to research grant funds that could be used to help with officer retention.
“The most important thing is to get grant programs in our schools and to communicate with our children, to talk with our children,” Silva said.
It also focuses on improving the department’s ability to respond to incidents at the Alamo, which would require agreements with the section government and the Navajo Nation government.
“When you get up and call 911, you need it ASAP. Not four hours, not five hours,” Silva said.
The general election will take place on November 8. Early voting has already started.