Edgewood PD largest ever; residents spoke on sanctuary

At its council meeting March 6, Edgewood’s police department grew by two officers to its largest size to date; that action was the most substantive in a meeting that included extended public comment on the town adopting “Second Amendment Sanctuary” status.

Police Chief Ron Crow recommended the hiring of Zachary Sisemore and Dayton Bell. After they were approved, Crow said the police force now has 11 officers, the most since the establishment of the department.

Both had been deputies with the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office, Crow said.

Sisemore said he has lived in New Mexico for two years and now resides in Edgewood. He said he was “looking forward to being a part of the community and really feel like I could make a difference.”

“Welcome aboard,” Mayor John Bassett said.

Dayton Bell and his family. Photo by Thomas Campbell.

Dayton Bell “has two-and-a-half years’ service with the sheriff’s office,” Crow said, adding, “Another local, he lives right up the road on King’s Highway.”

“My wife and I both grew up in the Edgewood area,” Bell said. “I want to be closer to home and work closer with the community where I live and call my home.”

Motions to approve the hire of both men were made by Councilor John Abrams and passed unanimously.

The council meeting was attended by an estimated 120 people, there to discuss whether Edgewood should declare itself a “second amendment sanctuary city” as towns and counties around the state have done in response to proposed gun control legislation in Santa Fe.

Though it was not on the agenda, many attendees said they heard a story on KRQE news announcing that the issue would be addressed in Edgewood. KRQE news spokesperson Bob Thomas confirmed the story.

Bassett opened the meeting to public comment by saying, “Be respectful of one another’s opinions. You may hear some opinions you don’t like, but let’s all remember the first amendment.”

Without an action item on the agenda, residents could speak their minds, but no action could be taken by the town council.

Edgewood’s mayor and councilors being addressed by the public March 6. Photo by Thomas Campbell.

Dozens of people commented in favor of making Edgewood a “second amendment sanctuary city” to circumvent legal restrictions on guns and in fear that guns could legally be taken from them.

Each person’s comments were respectfully heard and followed by applause, with one exception.

The lone dissenting voice was that of Evelyn Vinogradov, a retired high school teacher. She advocated “common sense measures designed to protect our lives and the lives of our children,” and added, “Edgewood police and county sheriffs must enforce all laws.”

Her comments were greeted by audible grumbling and a heckler in the crowd while Bassett and the council remained silent. No applause followed.

One commenter had baked cookies in the shape of guns which she presented to the council and which were accepted and eaten.

Another person, unrecognized by council, interrupted the proceedings to announce that he had NRA raffle tickets for sale which passed without comment by council or mayor.

Bassett asked repeatedly if there was further comment, prompting many more to speak. The number of comments prolonged the meeting for an hour while the work of addressing agenda items would come later.

Regarding gun measures being now under consideration by the state legislature, Edgewood’s municipal judge William “Bill” White said, “Those people in Santa Fe don’t give a damn about us.”

The current legislative session wraps up March 16.

Whether a “second amendment sanctuary city” resolution would be added to a future agenda, Holle did not know when asked after the meeting.

Abrams said it “sounded to me like the council wanted to move something onto the agenda.” Asked if he thought it was necessary, Abrams said, “Honestly no.”

When asked after the meeting whether she thought the public comments represented a majority of Edgewood residents, Holle replied, “I don’t know.”

Abrams responded to the same question by saying that Edgewood had “4,000-people plus. And you got maybe 50 or 60 in that room today. So, I think there are a lot of voices that haven’t been heard.”

Abrams continued, “I need to hear a whole lot more. I don’t like the idea of committing the town to a directive that may not be beneficial. I don’t know what the definition of sanctuary means in this case.”

Determining the constitutionality of gun laws, Abrams said, “By the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the State of New Mexico … is not within a sheriff’s purview.” 

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