SHERIFF LANDS GRANT FOR TWO DEPUTIES TO FOCUS ON DWI

SHERIFF LANDS GRANT FOR TWO DEPUTIES TO FOCUS ON DWI

Sheriff Juan Hernandez has announced that Doña Ana County will be the first county in New Mexico to secure $450,000 in state Department of Transportation funding for two deputies whose sole focus will be DWI arrests and prosecution.

“This is a three-year program at $150,000 a year,” Hernandez said. “We have designated deputies Tammy Van Valkenburg and Lawrence Louick to attend a series of advanced DWI detection, testing and field-sobriety courses. These deputies will have access to a brand new, state-of-the-art, field-testing vehicle that can be used to confirm DWI suspicions on the spot. The people these deputies arrest will have a very hard time trying to wiggle out of the justice system.”

Hernandez said Van Valkenburg and Louick will provide field support for other deputies who pull over DWI suspects. They also will help to coordinate roadblocks, saturation patrols and other programs designed to identify, arrest and prosecute drunk drivers.

J. Michael Quintana, program manager for the New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Bureau, said Doña Ana County was chosen for the first of the available grants on the basis of its ongoing and aggressive anti-DWI program, which includes vehicle forfeitures for repeat DWI offenders.

“Sheriff Hernandez is the most aggressive sheriff in the state in terms of DWI enforcement,” Quintana said. “We will eventually award these grants in other counties, but we made the decision to start here because the Doña Ana County program is already the model program across the state, and we want to give Sheriff Hernandez additional weapons in his fight against drunken drivers. We have confidence that he will show other departments how to get the most effective use of these dollars.”

Quintana said law-enforcement agencies across the nation are modeling their anti-DWI programs after what has been implemented in Doña Ana County.

Quintana said a press conference will be held Aug. 25 in Albuquerque to announce other grants to other counties. The grants will signal the onset of a statewide initiative to combat DWI across New Mexico.

For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.