Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- CHURCH PASTOR-SEX CRIMES ARREST
Pastor, teacher from Vegas held as child sex case fugitiveALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 59-year-old church pastor and former elementary school teacher from Las Vegas has been arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a warrant accusing him of sex crimes involving children. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Reynaldo Crespin was arrested Saturday and jailed pending an extradition hearing and his transfer in custody to Nevada. Court records in Las Vegas show that Crespin was named in a warrant issued Feb. 10 on multiple charges including sexual assault against children under ages 16 and 14. Reports in Las Vegas identify Crespin as a second-grade teacher from 2016 until this month and a pastor at New Horizon Christian Church.
- AP-NM-ALBUQUERQUE POLICE STAFFING
Albuquerque police officers shifting to a 12-hour scheduleALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police officers in Albuquerque are shifting to a 12-hour schedule to help increase staffing levels on patrol. Police Chief Harold Medina tells Albuquerque TV station KRQE that the vast majority of officers support the 12-hour shift. As of December, the Albuquerque Police Department had 926 officers. The department has had a budgeted goal of 1,140 sworn-in officers since Mayor Tim Keller took office in 2016 when there were 833 officers. The department has 1,000 police officers last year. Keller made it a campaign promise that he would try and hire 100 officers every year of his term.
- EASTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY-PRESIDENT
Eastern New Mexico University searching for next presidentPORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The president of Eastern New Mexico University has announced plans to retire this summer. Patrice Caldwell has spent more than four decades working for the university. She started as a faculty member, and served in various department leadership roles before becoming president. Caldwell told the Board of Regents on Friday that she will retire on July 1. The board says it already has started a nationwide search for her replacement. Nearly 5,000 students were enrolled at the university's main campus in Portales last fall. The university also has campuses in Ruidoso and Roswell.NEW MEXICO-FREE COLLEGENew Mexico to fund free college for more students this fallSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is expected to expand one of the country's most generous free college programs for nearly all adults. The state Legislature has planned $75 million to fund the program for a year in a bill expected to be signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The "Opportunity Scholarship" is intended to help adults return to college if they couldn't finish in the past. If the funding is expended beyond a year, the program's broad eligibility would make it possible for people to move to New Mexico, establish residency, and get a free degree. The program covers fees and allows students to use federal grants for living expenses.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
Navajo Nation maintains mask mandate as New Mexico drops itWINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation says it will maintain a mask mandate even as the last of the states around it dropped the requirement. The tribe implemented a mask mandate early on in the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Residents and visitors on the reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona are required to wear masks in public. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made a surprise announcement Thursday to lift the state's mask mandate. Utah's requirement for most public settings was short-lived. Arizona never had a statewide mask mandate.
- UNDERSHERIFF WON'T BE PROSECUTED
Prosecutor: Agreement dismisses charge against undersheriffSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A special prosecutor says a northern New Mexico senior sheriff's official has agreed to retire in exchange for dismissal of a felony charge accusing him of ordering deputies to draw their guns against other officers. The charge accusing Rio Arriba County Undersheriff Martin Ray Trjujillo of solicitation to commit aggravated assault upon a police officer was dismissed Monday. Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said it can be refiled if Trujillo doesn't retire at the end of February as agreed. The 2020 incident in which Trujillo was charged involved a confrontation involving then-Sheriff James Lujan and officers attempting to seize his cellphone for an investigation.
- CHACO-OIL AND GAS
US land managers to host meetings on Chaco protection planFARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials have scheduled a series of public meetings to gather comments on the U.S. Interior Department's proposal to limit oil and gas development on federal land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Two in-person meetings will be held Wednesday in Farmington. A virtual meeting will follow Thursday evening. It's part of a process that aims to withdraw federal land holdings within 10 miles of the park boundary, making the area off-limits to oil and gas leasing for 20 years. New leases on federal land in the area will be halted for the next two years while the withdrawal proposal is considered.
Border agency chief faces challenges from within and outsideYUMA, Ariz. (AP) — Chris Magnus has many challenges to overcome in his new role as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Among them are agent discontent, allegations of migrant mistreatment, a failure to recruit more women and an asylum system that many view as broken. In an interview with The Associated Press, Magnus acknowledged morale problems within the nation's largest law enforcement agency but offered no quick answers to the heavy migration flow to the U.S., which attracts more asylum seekers than any other country. Magnus might seem like an unconventional pick. As police chief in Tucson, Arizona, he rejected federal grants to collaborate on border security with the agency he now leads and kept a distance from Border Patrol leaders.