Gallup Police Chief sues city over program aimed at helping alcoholics

GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a program designed to clean up the streets of a Gallup while getting alcoholics the help they need. However, the city’s police chief has a problem with it, and he’s suing.

Police Chief Phillip Hart has a problem with how the city uses its Community Service Aid program to deal with the problem.

CSA officers detain drunk persons and take them to a detox center. In a lawsuit against the city, Hart’s attorney says the CSA officers are civilians and not commissioned police officers.

In a memo, the city claims the practices are “proper and legal under the state’s Detoxification Reform Act,” and that Chief Hart “doesn’t have a full understanding of the law.”

Hart believes that civilians have “no authority to fulfill these actions,” and is asking for $1.1 million. This, after he claims the city told him that this program is a mandatory part of his department’s job.

People in Gallup say more needs to be done.

“When it’s at it’s worst, I mean you see people laying passed out all over the roads, the sidewalks, all over the place,” resident Ernest Arellanes said.

In a memo from the chief’s attorney, it says the $1.1 million would be for the trouble the chief has endured because of this program. In return for the money, he would resign.

City officials and Chief Hart did not want to comment on the lawsuit.

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