SANTA FE (KRQE) – One man hired to protect lawmakers has one lawmaker afraid of him.
As News 13 reported Tuesday night, former Rio Arriba Sheriff’s deputy and former state cop Algin Mendez was hired to work as a security guard during the 2014 session.
Mendez was fired by state police for failing to take the report of a domestic violence victim.
Mendez later quit his job as a deputy before he could be fired by Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella for getting caught on camera head-butting someone and being drunk and rowdy at a casino.
Rodella’s wife is Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola. Sources tell KRQE News 13 Rodella recently filed for a restraining order against Mendez. That paperwork was still being processed as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Mendez got the job with the help of Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, who was listed as his reference on his job application.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, says he’s spoken with Mendez and has been assured that his problems are truly in the past. However, because of complaints and concerns from House members, Sanchez says Mendez will only be allowed to work as a guard inside and outside of Senate chambers and not in any committee rooms.
“I am satisfied that he’ll be a good worker for us in the Senate,” Sanchez said. “A young man made a mistake, has admitted to those mistakes and wants to move forward and be a good productive citizen of the state of New Mexico.”
Some lawmakers are concerned the vetting process for the men and women who protect them isn’t strict enough.
“When we have people here in charge of security, we have to know that they are qualified and that they’ve gone through a background check so the public is protected that’s in this building as well as the legislators,” said Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque.
“I think based on what happened here that we’re going to look at it and get a little more information than we’ve gotten in the past,” Sanchez said.
Rodella declined to respond to multiple requests for comment.