LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Valencia County Fire Chief Steven Gonzales is being investigated by Los Lunas police after he pulled over a driver on I-25.
It happened on Saturday afternoon near Exit 203 off of northbound I-25 in Los Lunas. On recorded dispatch audio obtained by KRQE News 13, you can hear Gonzales’ radio in what would normally be a routine call.
“Can I have a Los Lunas police officer meet me on I-25 just south of [mile marker] 203?” Gonzales said. “I have a vehicle, silver Camry pulled over [for] excessive speed and reckless driving.”
Dispatchers were sending an officer when Gonzales called out again over his radio. It appears the driver Gonzales pulled over may have realized that it was not police who had stopped them.
“Ma’am at this time the vehicle departed,” Gonzales said. “It’s the silver Toyota Camry.”
Dispatch cancelled the call, but that officer’s supervisor was not too happy to hear about Gonzales, the county fire chief, pulling over a driver. Los Lunas Police Chief Naithan Gurule was not too happy either.
“Law enforcement are the only ones that can make a traffic stop,” Gurule said. “Somebody who’s not law enforcement is not trained in conducting traffic stops. You also have the issue of, you don’t know… what’s gonna happen.”
Los Lunas Police have now opened an investigation into Gonzales’ actions and are attempting to talk to the driver he pulled over.
Monday afternoon, Gurule filed an official complaint with Valencia County. The next day the county took action, placing him on paid administrative leave and initiating an internal investigation.
Just weeks ago, Gonzales was suspended after he and other members of top brass were caught in pictures in uniform with scantily clad women while at a training conference in Indianapolis.
This latest incident does not have county leaders pleased.
“We find it very troublesome, it’s very concerning,” said Valencia County Manager Danny Monette. “There’s some things the allegations assume that could have long term consequences on the chief.”
Chief Gonzales did not respond to a request for comment to get his side of what happened. The county expects its internal investigation to be completed within a week.