Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Chief Aric Wheeler, Santa Fe Police Department
Several weeks ago, we attended a meeting where we heard the Police Chief of Santa Fe speak.
Chief Aric Wheeler is new to the position; he was installed as chief in June, 2009. He already has achieved a lot of experience at various levels of the police department.
From his talk, it was apparent he inherited a department that needed a lot of revision and updating. A main problem he has is the economy, which has caused a delay in being able to hire several new officers which had already been approved quite some time ago. Santa Fe is growing, so the combination of new growth plus not enough police officers on the streets is presenting a big challenge to Police Chief Wheeler.
Another challenge is dealing with the crime in Santa Fe, which seems to be a combination of gang activity, theft, and domestic disturbances. Chief Wheeler is beginning to implement a plan to have people who are out in the community keep an observant eye out for anything they see that looks suspicious. He is working with teachers, firemen and realtors to be the eyes and ears of the city, and to report unusual activities. He is also putting a greater number of officers in the problem areas of the city.
I was impressed with Chief Wheeler. He is young (37 years old) and personable, and as a lifelong resident of the area, he already has a interest in Santa Fe because it is his home, and he is raising a family of four children here. Actually he lives out in Eldorado, so I guess that makes him our neighbor.
One answer to an audience question bothered me. Chief Wheeler was asked what can be done about the illegal alien problem, why Santa Fe is a sanctuary city, and whether the status could be changed. His answer was that he can do nothing about the sanctuary status, because that decision is not a local or state issue, but is mandated by the federal government. That was the first time I have ever heard that, and it is of great concern to me in hoping for control of the illegal problem in this city.
(Picture of Chief Wheeler comes from the Santa Fe Police Department website. )