Edgewood’s new Police Chief Ron Crow is a local who plans to be a “working chief” and wants his officers to be visible in the community and approachable by anyone.
Crow sat down for an interview with The Independent last week, after being hired on as chief by Edgewood Mayor John Bassett.
The job at the head of Edgewood’s police department fulfills a childhood dream, Crow said. “I set my goals out in middle school to be in law enforcement,” he said.
Having moved to Edgewood from Shamrock, Texas around first grade, Crow pointed to a few people he knew from church as role models that made him want to be a police officer.
He went to TVI (now CNM) for criminal justice courses, graduated from the New Mexico State Police Academy in 2000, and got his first job with New Mexico State Police, where he worked for about a year and a half, Crow said.
While working for the State Police, Crow met his wife Antonia, as his beat took him regularly into Vaughn, where she is from. They married in 2002 and now have two children.
After the State Police, Crow worked for the Torrance County Sheriff’s Department under then-Sheriff Pete Golden. Crow was one of the officers who lost a job when a federal grant Golden had procured to hire deputies ran out. Crow and his wife had just bought a house in Edgewood—a week before he was laid off.
He liked Torrance County, though, saying that if not for that layoff, “I might still be there.”
But Crow—along with other deputies who suddenly found themselves out of a job—was recruited by Santa Fe County, and his career continued there until he was hired by Edgewood a few weeks ago.
During his tenure at Santa Fe County, Crow worked in DWI patrol, then as part of the traffic homicide team. He then went into criminal investigations as a violent crimes detective, including crimes against children.
In 2010 he advanced to the rank of Corporal and was field commander in charge of the traffic division; in 2012 he became a Sergeant, and oversaw recruiting and public events in addition to the traffic department.
In 2013, he became an Investigations Sergeant, and oversaw investigations into violent and property crimes, warrants, narcotics investigations and evidence management.
By 2015 he was back in the field as Day Shift Sergeant, in charge of that team.
When he heard about the position at the top of Edgewood’s department, Crow said he jumped at the chance. “This is my dream from a kid,” he said.
Now 37, Crow said all of his experience will serve him well as Edgewood’s chief.
Crow’s philosophy on law enforcement is community policing. His goals include having the public feel able to approach any police officer at any time, to chat, ask for help, or give encouragement.
At the time the interview was conducted, an ambush of police officers by a sniper in Dallas left five officers dead and seven more injured. In the days since then, another shooting targeted police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, leaving another three officers dead there.
As the rhetoric about police brutality heats up around the nation, Crow’s approach is to be visible in the community and to be readily accessible.
“My view on law enforcement is we work for the people. … It’s a privilege and it’s something you shouldn’t take lightly,” he said. “There needs to be communication between the public and the office. There needs to be that transparency—you don’t want a shroud of mystery involving an office. I want everybody in the community to know me.
Crow said his predecessor, Fred Radosevich, “left this department in great standing,” adding, “It’s going to be hard to fill those shoes, but it’s something I look forward to tasking myself with. Definitely community policing is the No. 1 priority for me.”
Crow said his aim is that when somebody talks about the police officers in his department, that they know them by their first names. “I just want that community to feel so welcome, and I hate to say it, it’s corny, but so loved, by the department, secure in their residences knowing that we’re out there.”
He said he would take an “understanding” approach and said the department has to be held accountable by the public.
“There’s definitely a cry for the increase in community policing—that feeling of trust,” he said. “When you and I were growing up, officers were like part of the family. … Now it’s the cop down the road. We’re as guilty as anybody. We’re in a shroud in our cars, thinking everybody is out to get us, everybody has a gun. Everybody wants to end my life and deprive my family of me coming home at night.”
Asked about the stress of recent shootings of police, Crow said law enforcement can be scary. “There are situations that you’re scared to go into as an officer, and any officer that denies that is telling you a lie. Just because you wear a badge and a bulletproof vest doesn’t make you invincible.”
He continued, “Referencing what recently happened in Dallas, it was a tragic, blatant, targeted attack. That was planned. That was deliberate, complete evil. And obviously prayers go out to the families for having to go through something like that.”
Crow said over and over that when people lash out at police, “it isn’t personal, they are going after the uniform.”
He said the department has tools it can use to help officers deal with the trauma and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, than can be a part of law enforcement. He himself was shot at on a stop as a deputy and “engaged” with the man who shot at him, killing him.
The chief said the incident took its toll on him, and was a pivotal moment in his career.
What helps is talking to other law enforcement officers, he said. Crow also said that family support and talking to his pastor are other ways he copes with the stresses of the job.
Crow said “95 percent” of the people law enforcement officers run across are good people having a bad day. “This isn’t a profession where you can hold grudges,” he said, adding, “There’s no profiling, there’s no grudges, there’s no targeting of individuals due to race, sexual orientation, religion, anything like that. Nothing like that will ever be tolerated here, at least as long as I’m here.”
When police officers seem like “robots” on the scene of a crime, Crow said that’s when they are turning off their emotions and “snapping back to [their] training.” After the event is over is when the emotions hit, he said.
“Some officers seem calloused, seem unapproachable. My experience with that is that we, day in and day out, deal with nothing but problems,” Crow said. “We never get called to a house for a good reason. We never get called to a non-accident in the intersection. … We’re called to the worst society has to offer. It weights on us emotionally as a person. As a father I see things happening to children and it just sickens me, and it weighs on me.”
He continued, “I’d reach out to the community that when you see my officers, shake their hand, tell them hi. Let them know you appreciate them. Let them know there is good out there still. That’s that balance. It’s hard seeing certain things then going home.”
The biggest crime issues in Edgewood are property crimes, Crow said, mainly shoplifting, burglaries and graffiti. “This is a very safe community, one of the safest communities in the state.”