ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Come next year, there will be a new sheriff in town.
Both men battling to lead Bernalillo County’s deputies say they’re the kind of leader the department needs, but only one will win the sheriff’s office showdown.
“I have the support of the deputies and the community,” said Manny Gonzales, who has been down this road before. The now-retired sheriff’s captain and Marine veteran was Bernalillo County’s sheriff for part of a term when former Sheriff Darren White took a job with the R.J. Berry administration in 2009.
“I made the best of it,” Gonzales said. “I was able to sustain what is considered the premiere law enforcement agency in the state. I left it like that.”
A year later, voters chose Sheriff Dan Houston to take over, ousting Gonzales.
“He already had a shot,” said Scott Baird, who’s opposing Gonzales in the race.
Baird was Sheriff Houston’s chief deputy before retiring and ultimately running against his old boss. Baird says he’s stepping up to clean up some of the problems the department’s faced under Sheriff Houston.
“There has been a lack of trust from the top down, so the administration doesn’t trust the deputies – the deputies don’t trust the administration,” Baird said. “I’m going to be able to restore that.”
A big issue in this race is lapel cameras. APD officers wear them, but BCSO deputies don’t. Right now, both men are hesitant about the technology.
“That just doesn’t make sense to spend tens of thousands – maybe more – of taxpayers’ dollars on a program that isn’t necessarily working or enhancing police work,” said Baird.
Gonzales said the real issue is transparency and trust.
“It’s not the lapel cameras,” Gonzales said, adding trust can be fixed with good leadership and holding people accountable.
Both men also declined to weigh in on the pot issue on the ballot in Bernalillo County, saying if elected sheriff, they’d be tasked with enforcing the law, not writing it.