The Independent reached out to all of the candidates running for Bernalillo County Sheriff with a questionnaire. Those who responded are presented here in full, as written by the candidates.

The Primary Election will be June 7, and early voting is ongoing now. New in this election, voters may change voter registration to vote in any party’s primary. Visit the Secretary of State’s website for details. For Bernalillo County polling locations, follow this link.


John Allen

John Allen – D

1. Why are you running for sheriff?


I’m running because we need new top leadership at BSCO. As Sheriff, I will end the corruption and lack of accountability we’ve experienced at the Sheriff’s office and embrace reform and transparency so we better fight crime.

2. What strengths do you bring to the table if elected? 


Strengths are my experience—I’ve been a supervisor and police instructor. I am also committed to change and to running a strong, professional Sheriff’s Office. I will also bring deep community relationships to the position. I’ve earned the support of labor, social justice and community groups, and Democratic leaders like US Senator Martin Henrich and U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury. The Albuquerque Journal has also endorsed my campaign.

3. What weaknesses do you bring to the table if elected?


Patience— I like things to be done, and done in an efficient manner.

4. What is your top priority if elected?


I will immediately work to change the culture of cronyism, nepotism, and dysfunction created by current Sheriff Manny Gonzales. The Sheriff’s office has been plagued by an inability to work with other jurisdictions and hostility toward transparency, the public and the media. I will restore public trust and rebuild morale at BCSO so we can better fulfill our core mission of public safety, through 21st century techniques and training.

5. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now and what is your proposed solution?




Violent crime is our most serious challenge. We must invest in focused and data-driven policing that keeps violent offenders behind bars. We also must overhaul and improve how BCSO works with APD and our law enforcement partners to communicate better, share resources, and allocate officers and deputies more effectively.

6. Why are you the best person for the job?


As stated above, I believe I’m best suited for this critical job because of my experience, commitment to change, and the trust I’ve earned in the community.

7. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If yes, provide details.

No.


Derek Scott

Derek Scott – R

1. Why are you running for sheriff?


I had an interest in Law Enforcement early, first as a Police Explorer and then as a Cadet with the Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Department. I moved to New Mexico in 2003, and currently lives on the West Side of Albuquerque. I am married, with three children. When my children said they had no future here in New Mexico, it hit me hard. I knew it was time to see what I could do to help make sure my children, that all our children, had a future here.

I have ambitious plans for the Bernalillo County S.O., including bringing back retired Deputies and Veterans who wish to go back to work and hiring medically retired Deputies and people with disabilities to form the nucleus of a new cyber-crime unit. This will do two things – one, allow other Deputies to return to the street and other duties and second provide a unit to deal with a growing problem. At the present time, there is no such unit in the county, leaving Albuquerque and the surrounding cities and towns vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

I also plan to get both myself and my administrative staff out into the communities of the County to learn, firsthand, what some of the problems are and work with stakeholders in those communities – businesses, churches, schools, and residents – to find workable solutions to those problems. I am proponent of the “broken windows” concept and will work to deal, to the greatest extent possible with “quality of life” issues that often help to create an environment that can foster criminal activity. I will work with the County Commissioners to get funding for the best training for the Deputies under my command and hold them accountable for their actions and conduct and work to ensure transparency in the operation of the Sheriff’s Office. My campaign slogan, “Big D For Sheriff” can be summed up this way – Bold, Intelligent, Great Directions. As my campaign literature says, we’re “Bringing the pieces back together for justice.”

2. What strengths do you bring to the table if elected? 


The strengths I believe I bring to the sheriff’s position in Bernalillo County is my experience not just in the public sector in the Sheriff’s Department. I’ve also learned a good deal from running security companies and personal protection services and as an expert witness as a consultant. I’ve learned a lot more about the law then I think most deputies get in their careers. Also, I’ve learned a better understanding of the constitution and the rights that are given to us by our creator. I know a lot more about case presentation and legal findings that affect law enforcement. Also, I believe the adversity I’ve gone through with my disability has given me a more unique understanding. It has given me ways and ideas to deal with things that most people would not think of. I can think outside the box.

Being asked to work and rewrite the SOP – Standard Operating Procedures – for Sandoval County detention center. It helped me look at different ways to solve current issues that have been going on for a long time. This was quite an honor and privilege to reexamine and to implement ideas that were more effective and safer for officers and inmates. It also hi-lighted that there were a few procedures that were outdated. This has enabled me to look at situations differently and address them in a way that might be unique.

3. What weaknesses do you bring to the table if elected?


Time, there might not be enough time to get done what we plan to do. But by God we will try.

4. What is your top priority if elected?


I would like to make changes to the Reserve Deputy program to create a fast track and to get more volunteers and, also make necessary changes in the Academy. My team and I want to bring new technology into the Department, to help in response time and overall efficacy. Also, we plan to adjust training that deals with situational awareness and equipment rotation. We plan to add more training in the law and psychology. I plan to bring a “Murder Bill” to the state capital to get funding for Bernalillo County and other departments to clear out the murders and get them solved. This will help with solving some of our crime because most murders are involved with other serious felonies. I and my administration staff will be out on patrol a minimum of 1 to 2 days a week – or more if needed – to see first-hand what needs work and to be accessible to the community and also APD. We will look into discontinuing “take home” cars in many cases to save resources. We will be looking into replacing helicopters with drones that can be carried in some patrol vehicles to be used in surveillance and searches.

5. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now and what is your proposed solution?




Society is not aware of how much theft has driven up the cost of items. Theft has contributed to the devaluing of our dollar. For instance, in cybercrimes, trillions of dollars have been taken away from hard working people. Even if they are not direct victims of cybercrime, the money that insurance companies and the FDIC use to cover the losses comes from us, the taxpayer. So, understand it’s a vicious cycle that we must take control of as a community or things will become even more expensive. If you want me to put a finger on the most serious criminal threats, they would be murder, abuse of drugs such as fentanyl, and cybercrimes or cybertheft. My personal focus is cyber theft and cybercrimes because of the effect it has on the economy. When I am sheriff and can make a positive correction no matter how small in our economy by arresting and bringing these computer criminals to the prosecutor, I will be satisfied with my term as sheriff.

6. Why are you the best person for the job?


It isn’t just my experience that I bring to the job, but the team I have assembled. This is one of the reasons that I am the best person for the job. I have never run for office before. I have no further political aspirations after this. I just want the people to elect me as their Sheriff and to then protect and serve to help give back to the county that has given so much to me. I think it is time for the Sheriff’s office to step in and help in any way it can. It can no longer be us vs. them not with the community or the other law enforcement agencies. Both BCSO and APD will need to work together to deal with the crime wave. The Sheriff is the highest Law Enforcement official in the County. However, it is up to all of us to bring the pieces back together for justice and I am willing to lead that fight

7. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If yes, provide details.

No.


Larry Koren

Larry Koren – D

1. Why are you running for sheriff?


My reason for seeking the office of Sheriff is simple. I’m here to serve and love to serve! I want to ensure continuity of leadership trust, service, honor, and commitment to the public I believe the experience I gained while working with past and present leaders of the Sheriff’s office has prepared me well to identify and accomplish goas that will enhance safety within our community. I can think of no better way to use my experience education, and training than to serve the people of Bernalillo County.
I believe that public safety services must be provided in a fair and impartial manner regardless of political viewpoint, race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or opinion.
I believe that difficult issues can often be solved through resourcefulness and simple solutions.
I believe that the key to resolving public safety problems is to build relationships and establish collaborative partnerships with public safety stakeholders.

2. What strengths do you bring to the table if elected? 


As to my education. After graduating from Highland High School, I began a long road toward earning multiple college degrees and professional certifications.  Along the way, I gained multiple skills as an aircraft mechanic, helicopter rescue pilot, college instructor, licensed K-8 elementary teacher, emergency medical technician, law enforcement officer, administrator, and leader. Larry earned associate degrees from Eastern New Mexico University and Central New Mexico Community College (formerly Albuquerque Technical-Vocational Institute), a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from the University of New Mexico, and a master’s degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University. I also graduated from the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety School of Police and Command.
As to my achievements. I am a proven agency leader with an exemplary history of collaboration among public safety stakeholders. I am an accomplished, pragmatic, and rational leader with a history of being helpful, resourceful, and safe.  During my career, I learned to take a crawl-walk-run approach with regard to public safety initiatives. My experience in the areas of collaboration, program development, grant writing, risk mitigation, training, mission planning, operations, and project management will certainly benefit my service to the residents of the county. I  am a catalyst for various initiatives to improve services, transparency, technology, and public safety infrastructure for Bernalillo County.   I will help save Bernalillo County residents millions of dollars of equipment purchases, training, and infrastructure development thru collaboration, grants, and equipment re-utilization.  I have played critical roles in developing a multi-mission airborne public safety service to assist law enforcement officers, wildland firefighters, and search & rescue personnel.  As a public information officer, I identified the need to assign detectives to the Metro Detention Center to investigate in-custody crimes and corruption.  I played a key role in conceptualizing and selecting body camera technology designed to promote law enforcement transparency and accountability while maintaining safety of our law enforcement personnel.  I continue to  collaborate with the Bernalillo County Fire Department, Albuquerque Police Department, and other county and city stakeholders to bolster service to the community.

3. What weaknesses do you bring to the table if elected?


My greatest weakness is also my biggest challenges: Crime in the City of Albuquerque.
This questionnaire and my responses are directed at the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office. But I do not want to imply that my response will not reflect upon the city of Albuquerque, it will. As a city resident and your Sheriff (if elected), I cringe when I hear the despriate cries of Albuquerque residents for fundamental law enforcement services.  I am torn by my obligation to protect and serve all Bernalillo County residents, including city residents.  The county’s challenges with regard to crime and behavioral health issues are modest in comparison to those faced by the city.  I’m proud of the fact that county residents enjoy a certain level of service and responsiveness by our first responders.  The fact the Sheriff’s office is able to accomplish so much with so little by comparison to the city is remarkable.  I want city residents to eventually have the same level of services currently enjoyed by county residents.  As Sheriff (if elected), I will look forward to developing an agreement to bridge service between the city and surrounding law enforcement agencies to fill this gap in service; at least, until the city is able to achieve sustainable levels of staffing.

4. What is your top priority if elected?


Crime prevention is my top priorty. Preventing criminal activity and divert people from crime is what we do.  And the Sheriff’s office does it well.  This is done by actually having deputies present and visible in the community to respond to calls for service, apprehending offenders, and reminding or educating the public on how to deter criminal behavior thru simple prevention efforts.
My first “major” change and priority is to take a multifaceted approach to bolster law enforcement services to both city and county residents.  My focus areas include (1) decentralization of BCSO services to include building substation in proximity of the city and county; (2) investment in recruitment and retention efforts of our personnel by advocating for competitive pay and more staffing of deputies and support staff; (3) sustaining and developing strong collaborative relationships between all criminal justice stakeholders including federal agencies, local law enforcement (APD), District Attorney’s office, and behavioral health organizations; (4) development of law enforcement infrastructure to include facilities and information technology: (5)  integration and utilization of smart policing initiatives to include data driven law enforcement, real-time data sharing, next generation dispatch technology, and live video streaming technology.

5. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now and what is your proposed solution?




Violent crime is our most serious challenge. We must invest in focused and data-driven policing that keeps violent offenders behind bars. We also must overhaul and improve how BCSO works with APD and our law enforcement partners to communicate better, share resources, and allocate officers and deputies more effectively.

6. Why are you the best person for the job?


I am a simple, practical, and humble man intent of providing quality law enforcement services to our communities. I am the only candidate currently working in law enforcement and prepared to hit the ground running upon winning the election.  I am here to serve, and I look forward to serving you!

7. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If yes, provide details.

No.


Philip Snedeker – D

1. Why are you running for sheriff?


I am a member of this community.  I am interested in this community and it’s citizens.  I am a trained,  professional Law Enforcement Officer and Administrator. I have 48 continuous years experience in Law Enforcement and in administering such agencies.  I am running for Sheriff to ensure and provide for the safety  and protection of our community and it’s citizens.

2. What strengths do you bring to the table if elected? 


I have a BA Degree in Social Science and an MA Degree in Educational Administration, both from Western New Mexico University, SilvervCity, NM.  I worked as a City Police Officer, in Silver City, while in college.  I worked subsequently for a 10 year period, as a New Mexico State Police Officer.  I am the former elected Democratic Sheriff of Quay County, Tucumcari, NM.  I have worked for 32 years as a Certified Peace Officer and Administrator, for the State of New Mexico Probation/Parole Division, Albuquerque, NM.

3. What weaknesses do you bring to the table if elected?


I am committed fully to the service of the Public, as a Law Enforcement professional.  I spend little time engaged in anything else.  I do not consider such as a hindrance, as I have found, that there is great satisfaction and joy, in lifting others up.

4. What is your top priority if elected?


To initiate aggressive, professional, purposeful, proactive, Law enforcement initiatives, and activities, with their basis in statistical data, undertaken in a constitutionally sound manner, to prevent and suppress crime in our community, while additionally initiating and undertaking innovative crime reduction strategies, to address the underlying root causes of criminal behavior and activities. This will be achieved by meaningful community involvement and engagement, identifying and addressing the specific needs, problems, and concerns of the various areas and neighborhoods of our county.

5. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now and what is your proposed solution?




Crime prevention and suppression.  Please refer to my response in the question above, relative to my top priority in office.

6. Why are you the best person for the job?


My educational preparation and background, and my professional, and comprehensive work experience, during my 48 year career in Law Enforcement distinguishes me from others seeking this office.

7. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If yes, provide details.

No.