Police chief caught on camera

JAL, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico police chief was caught on camera misbehaving and his embarrassing antics got him in trouble with his department.

A hidden camera caught Larry Burns, Jal’s Chief of Police, having sexual intercourse with a female in the back of an ambulance inside a city-run facility.

Last month videos of Burns’ actions were sent to the city manager. “What he did was stupid, what he did was self-serving,” said Bob Gallagher, the Jal Interim City Manager.

Burns employment history with Jal Police

  • 1992-1995 Patrol and Narcotics Officer
  • Left Department for 1 year
  • 1996-2001 Patrol and Narcotics Officer
  • 2001-Present Police Chief

Gallagher suspended the chief without pay for two weeks since the inappropriate activity involved the town’s chief law enforcement officer on city property. When KRQE News 13 asked why he wasn’t fired Gallagher said, “In this case there was no criminal activity whatsoever, there was no proof whatsoever that it was on duty when he should have been working,” adding, ” I think it was lapse of judgment. Something that I don’t think will keep him from being able to perform his duties when he comes back.”

Burns may not have been on duty, but in one of the videos, he’s wearing his gun and badge. After seeing the videos Gallagher said it made him “sick to my stomach to be quite frank with you, and then mad.”

News 13 tried to catch up with the chief about the allegations. He would not answer the door at his Jal house but a Texas TV station did talk to him. Burns said it was a “personnel issue” when asked about the case and after a few questions, he walked out of the interview, refusing to answer any more.

Burns could be in more trouble however. Chief Burns could lose his police certification if someone files a complaint with the Law Enforcement Academy Board.

“I certainly believe it falls in that purview of a misconduct case that I would hope the academy board would look at,” said former State Police Chief Robert Shilling who sat on the LEA Board for more than two years.

“It certainly falls in the preview of misconduct in a multitude of ways,” he said. “I can only imagine, defrauding the taxpayers of being on duty or conducting yourself on duty when you’re saying you’re doing something else. I think would fall under the purview of the Law Enforcement Academy Board.”

Interim City Manager Gallagher said he has talked to state police about conducting an independent investigation but they have turned him down twice.

Jal is a small Southeastern New Mexico town, population 2000. Burns has been chief for 13 of the 22 years he has been with the Jal Police Department and when he is not keeping the peace, he serves as the city’s Emergency Medical Services Director.

Residents of Jal are shaken by this news, “You still got to think about what’s going to happen to our little town,” said Jal resident Yolanda Zamora. “That’s what we’re worried about.”

It’s unclear who placed the hidden camera in the locked city building. That is being investigated. Gallagher said that person could be punished too but it would not be criminally. Burns is now back to his job as police chief, but will no longer be the EMS Director.

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