Cadets and recruits sent home to mitigate COVID-19 spread

SANTA FE – The Department of Public Safety announced that Basic Law Enforcement Academy Class No. 200 cadets and New Mexico State Police Recruit Class No. 96 recruits are being sent home. The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy in Santa Fe will be closed amidst the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The closure is effective at 5 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020.

“To continue with each of these training classes is placing the recruits, cadets, trainers, veteran police officers and staff at risk,” said Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Mark Shea.

“Our goal is to work with each respective police agency and New Mexico State Police to support our communities. Although these measures will delay graduating new certified law enforcement officers, we are committed to ensuring they complete their training once this health emergency is over,” said Secretary Shea.

“It would be premature at this time to set a date when these academy classes will resume,” said Shea.

Currently, none of the cadets, recruits or staff are reporting any symptoms associated with COVID-19, said Shea.

New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Director Kelly Alzaharna said, “This is inconvenient, but the alternative of having someone fall ill or worse is our primary concern.”

Alzaharna said, a learn-at-home model was not an option since the law enforcement academy curriculum requires practical hands-on and scenario-based training.

“Suspending the New Mexico State Police recruit school is the most responsible decision in light of what our community is going through right now,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson. “We are working to implement some adjustments so that our recruits can continue to learn the necessary aspects of this job outside of the academy setting.”

The law enforcement academy implemented extensive CDC (Center for Disease Control) protocols to protect staff, cadets and recruits earlier this month, said Alzaharna.

All staff and attendees were issued notification and acknowledgement sheets identifying recommended precautions. Staff and students were required to wait in a staging area outside of the academy, where they reported any possible exposure, were screened for COVID-19 symptoms and their body temperature was taken. Anyone with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 were directed to call the NM DOH COVID-19 Hotline, and were not allowed entry until cleared, said Alzaharna.

Department of Public Safety Deputy Secretary August Fons said the basic police academy course is 16 weeks and the New Mexico State Police class is 22 weeks.

Basic Law Enforcement Academy Class No. 200 was comprised of 43 cadets: five (5) females and 38 males from 25 law enforcement agencies. The New Mexico State Police Recruit Class No. 96 had six (6) females and 15 males, or 21 recruits. Class No. 200 and Recruit Class No. 96 were slated to graduate Thursday, May 14, 2020, and Friday, June 12, 2020, respectively.

Deputy Secretary Fons, who has direct oversight of the academy said, the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academyestablishes procedures to implement satellite academy programs, defines required content and implements evaluation procedure. Subject to adherence to these provisions, each satellite academy can continue operating based on their respective situations and at their individual discretion.

There are currently nine sanctioned satellite academies in New Mexico: Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, CNM Law Enforcement Academy, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Las Cruces Police Department, New Mexico State Police, San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Authority, South Eastern New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy (Hobbs), and Western New Mexico University Law Enforcement Academy

The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy provides exceptional instruction to cadets, officers and telecommunicators on all aspects of basic training, in-service, advanced, specialized and instructor level training that is built upon a strong foundation of Character, Competence, Compassion, Commitment, and Comprehensive Teamwork.

Class No. 200 had 43 cadets from the following New Mexico Police agencies:

  1. Alamogordo Police Department
  2. Chaves County Sheriff’s Office
  3. Cibola County Sheriff’s Office
  4. Colfax County Sheriff’s Office
  5. Espanola Police department
  6. Gallup Police Department
  7. Grant County Sheriff’s Office
  8. Las Vegas Police Department
  9. Luna County Sheriff’s Office
  10. Moriarty Police Department
  11. New Mexico EMNRD
  12. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  13. Otero county Sheriff’s Office
  14. Pojoaque Tribal Police Department
  15. Raton Police Department
  16. Roswell Police Department
  17. Ruidoso Downs Police Department
  18. Ruidoso Police Department
  19. San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office
  20. Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office
  21. Santa Fe Police Department
  22. Taos County Sheriff’s Office
  23. Torrance County Sheriff’s Office
  24. Truth or Consequences Police Department
  25. Tucumcari Police Department