PRESS RELEASE: DWI checkpoints to be conducted in August

Farmington, NM – The Farmington Police Department, in partnership with surrounding law enforcement agencies, will be conducting DWI checkpoints during the month of August. The checkpoints are part of the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s 100 Days and Nights of Summer campaign. The campaign runs from June through September. These checkpoints are in addition to FPD’s ongoing RADD campaign (Report Aggressive and Drunk Drivers), which encourages citizens to call 911 to report aggressive and drunk drivers.

 

Message from the chief

Moment of silence for Baton Rouge law enforcement

Greetings community,

As everyone is already aware, another horrific act of violence transpired over the weekend. Six more officers were targeted and shot; three of those officers were killed and a fourth is still fighting for his life. Such attacks on law enforcement are destructive to our communities and our country as a whole. While we all pray this does not become the “new normal,” Baton Rouge and Dallas have reminded us of the danger faced by officers every day.

The Farmington Police Department will be honoring the fallen officers by wearing badge bands until Thursday morning. Additionally, we have been contacted by many citizens who share our feelings of sadness and anger over events from the past two weeks. There is only so much we can do as individuals. Together, however, we can make a statement. Today, FPD will line up at 4:00 p.m. outside the Farmington Museum located at 3041 E. Main St. for a moment of silence in honor of the fallen/injured Baton Rouge officers and deputies. Dispatch will only send officers to emergency calls at this time. Our employees will activate their overheads and stand along Main Street, silently, for five minutes paying their respects to the men and women of Baton Rouge law enforcement and their community.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Aztec, Bloomfield, and Navajo Police Departments, and New Mexico State Police are invited to join us at the museum or in their respective communities. To any citizens who wish to participate, you may come to the museum and stand alongside our employees. If you can’t make it, we invite everyone to step outside their home or business at 4:00 and simply stand in unison until 4:05.

Alone or in small groups, watching these events unfold can feel overwhelming and hopeless. However, together, taking a few minutes to pause and stand as one, reminds each of us and everyone around the world, that we can make a difference. We can stand against hate and anarchy – against all those who see only the dark side of our nation. The three officers, and all our men and women in blue, stand for what is right in our country.

God bless the U.S.A. and protect all of us during these difficult times.

Chief Steve Hebbe

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Following too closely

This week we are discussing a topic that is the cause of many traffic collisions. It is that of following too closely. Let’s first look at the state statute and the city ordinance to see what the laws say regarding this matter. The first is the state statute on following too close (66-7-318) and the second is the city ordinance (25-3-2).

New Mexico State Statute 66-7-318. Following too closely.

A. The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

B. The driver of any motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle when traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residence district shall not follow another motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle within three hundred feet, except that this shall not prevent a motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle from overtaking and passing by any like vehicle or other vehicle.

C. Motor vehicles being driven upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district in a caravan or motorcade whether or not towing other vehicles shall not follow the preceding vehicle closer than three hundred feet. This provision shall not apply to funeral processions, nor shall it apply within or outside of a business or residence district to motor vehicle escort vehicles of a motor vehicle escort service, which may, if necessary to maintain the continuity of the escorted unit or units, precede or follow at a distance closer than three hundred feet to the escorted unit or units.

Farmington City Ordinance 25-3-2. Following too closely. 

A. In its entirety, NMSA, 1978 § 66-7-318, incorporated via Farmington City Code § 25-1-1, is the standard within the limits of the city.

B. The testimony of an officer who has personally observed an alleged violator’s driving, as to the reasonableness, prudence and due regard of the alleged violator’s driving shall be legally sufficient proof of violation of this section.

C. Alternatively, proof that the alleged violator followed the preceding vehicle within a time of two seconds or less, or at a distance which can be traveled within two seconds or less, given the posted speed limit for the roadway, shall be legally sufficient proof of violation of this section.

Estimating distance between vehicles can be difficult, so I would like to focus on the second distance as mentioned in the city ordinance. This is often referred to as the two-second rule and I will explain how it works.

When the back of the vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object, you start to count, one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. If the front of your vehicle reaches that object before you finish counting “one thousand two,” then you are too close and need to increase your following distance. You can certainly be more than two seconds away from the vehicle in front of you, but no less than two full seconds. Below is a diagram illustrating how it works.

two-second Rule

As you can see in the diagram, after the back of the red car passes the light pole, the driver of the blue car would start to count. If the front of the blue car reaches the light pole before two full seconds, then the blue car is too close. If there is more than two seconds between the vehicles, then the blue car is at a good distance. It is important to note that while driving, you should not use any kind of timing device (cell phone or stopwatch) as that would be distracting and dangerous. Simply counting will work just fine.

Depending on who you talk to about this, some people may have been taught three seconds as a safe following distance. The two second rule is the minimum standard as outlined in the city ordinance. If you have been taught and feel more comfortable following the three-second rule, there is nothing wrong with that, as it will only give you more time and distance to react if an issue does arise.

There are many factors that may make you consider increasing the following distance. I will attempt to list and briefly describe a few of them. However, this list is not meant to include every possible situation where the following distance should be increased. With time and experience, drivers will become better able to judge those times and instances when distance should be increased.

Some factors where you may want to consider increasing your following distance.

Weather Conditions/ Road Conditions. If it is snowing, raining, or there is low visibility from fog, dust, or anything else, it would be a good idea to increase the distance. In these conditions there may not be as much traction on the roadway making it more difficult to stop in an emergency situation. You may also want to increase the following distance on dirt roads due to the limited traction and to reduce the chance of a rock hitting your vehicle or windshield.

Type of vehicle you are following. This is especially true if you are following a motorcycle. As the weather continues to warm up, there will be more and more motorcycles on the road. Motorcycles can stop a lot faster and in a shorter distance than most vehicles, so increasing following distance behind a motorcycle is a good idea.

Type of vehicle you are driving, towing, and/or hauling. The heavier your vehicle, the more time it will take you to stop your vehicle. That also includes the weight of anything you are hauling or towing. So if you are driving a large vehicle, such as a motorhome, or towing a heavy load such as a camper trailer, you need to be sure to increase your following distance.

Condition of your vehicle. Only you know the condition of your vehicle. This includes the condition of your brakes, tire tread, and tire pressure. If any of those are not as they should be, you should get it fixed as soon as possible. But in the meantime, be sure to increase your following distance.

Speed. As you increase in speed, you should also increase your distance from the vehicle in front of you. Two seconds may be a good distance around town, but once you start getting up to highway speeds, you should increase the time to at least three seconds.

A person may argue that if you leave too large a gap between you and the vehicle in front of you, then someone is going to change lanes in front of you. To that I would say, is okay. Let the other vehicle cut in and now readjust your distance to that vehicle. In the overall picture, it may delay you about two minutes to your overall destination, but you will be a lot safer on the roadway. And if you were to be in a collision, that will probably set you back at least 20 minutes, so a few minutes slower really is not all that bad.

No matter if you are a new driver or a seasoned driver with years of experience, I would encourage everyone to test out the two second rule the next time you are out driving. I think most people will find that on a regular basis, they are within two seconds from the vehicle ahead of them. If you aren’t, just make the necessary adjustments in your driving habits. By doing this, you will decrease the chances of rear ending the vehicle in front of you.

Jensen, JonathanOfficer Jensen has been a law enforcement officer with the Farmington Police Department for almost six years. He has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2013. Officer Jensen is a certified child passenger safety technician and a traffic collision reconstructionist.

PRESS RELEASE: Farmington Police Department offering online sales exchange location

Farmington, NM – Across the nation, crimes are committed on a daily basis to individuals who are attempting to buy or sell an item through an online site such as Craigslist.  As of today, there have been 102 deaths related to Craigslist transactions alone. The Farmington Police Department is dedicated to providing a safe community to the citizens of Farmington. The department is proud to announce that beginning today, Monday, March 14, 2016, FPD will have an online sales exchange location available for Internet transactions. The exchange site is located in the front parking lot of FPD on the west side of the fenced area. The department encourages individuals who conduct transactions through online sites such as Craigslist, to utilize this area during the exchange of items.

The online exchange location consists of two designated parking spaces in the front parking lot of FPD’s building. The parking spaces are identified by green hash marks on the ground and a sign located on the fence adjacent to the space. This location is subject to being recorded 24 hours a day and is frequented by officers. Commonly, if a subject has bad intentions, he or she will avoid meeting at an area where officers are likely to be.

Anyone wishing to use the parking lot at FPD should be aware that while all transactions will be subject to video recording, police officers will not assist or witness the transactions. The Farmington Police Department would also like to emphasize that these videos are not monitored live. In the event that an officer is needed, please call dispatch at 505-334-6622 for non-emergency situations and 911 for emergencies.

When choosing to use the police department parking lot to conduct transactions, individuals should remember that under no circumstances may someone conduct a transaction involving the sale of any weapon or any illegal item.

The Farmington Police Department would like to remind individuals of the following safety tips while conducting online sales transactions:

  • Don’t make a transaction alone
  • Tell a third party you’re conducting a transaction
  • Meet in a public place, such as the Farmington Police Department’s designated online sales exchange location
  • Don’t go to someone’s home or invite them to your home
  • Take cash or money orders for the transaction, but try to be discrete with the money
  • Conduct the transaction during the daytime

For more information on safe trading practices, and for online transaction safety tips, visit safetradestations.com.

Have a pesky skunk or squirrel? FPD’s animal control officers are here to help

As many of you know, it is that time of year when those pesky critters start coming out and become a nuisance. The pesky critters I’m talking about are skunks and squirrels. The City of Farmington has animal traps available to citizens who reside within the city limits. The traps may be obtained through the Farmington Police Department’s Records Division located at 900 Municipal Dr. A refundable deposit is required. After the deposit is paid and the necessary paperwork is completed, an animal control officer will deliver the appropriate trap to your residence and show you how to bait and set the trap. Once an animal is caught, simply call non-emergency dispatch at 334-6622 to have an ACO pick it up. Animal control is available from 7:00 am until 2:30 a.m. seven days a week.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • You are responsible for baiting and setting the trap.
  • When trapping skunks, the trap only needs to be set at dark, as skunks are nocturnal and out at night. Skunk traps are solid sheet metal, to help keep the animal calm and hopefully avoid spraying.
  • Squirrels are out during the day so the trap should be set in the morning, then tripped at night to avoid catching a skunk in an open wire trap. To avoid catching a skunk in an open wire trap, you can either trip the trap at dark or set the trap on a table or bench at least 24 inches high. Cats are able to jump up to check out the trap, but skunks have to climb.

NOTE: If you are using your own open wire trap to catch cats or squirrels and you happen to catch a skunk, be aware that animal control officers are not required to pick it up. You will need to release the skunk yourself.

  • Traps are loaned out for a 25 day period. If you finish with the trap sooner, call non-emergency dispatch to have an ACO pick it up. Once the trap has been returned, FPD’s Records Division will do the necessary paperwork for the return of your deposit. It will take a week or two for you receive it in the mail.
  • Please do not lend the trap to someone else or remove it from your property. You are ultimately responsible for the trap and any negligent damage or loss may result in you being charged for the replacement.

Remember, the Farmington Police Department’s animal control officers are available to answer questions and assist with the traps.They may be reached by contacting non-emergency dispatch at 334-6622. If you are having issues with other types of wildlife, such as raccoons, you may speak to an animal control officer or contact the Department of Game & Fish at (505) 827-9376.

Henrie, Julie

Julie Henrie is a park ranger/animal control officer with the Farmington Police Department’s Park Ranger Animal Control Unit. She has been with the department since February 2014.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Center turn lanes

This week’s topic came from our comments section on Facebook. Drivers using the center turn lane as a merge lane or stopping in them after exiting a private drive, waiting for traffic to clear.

I know you see drivers doing this as much or probably more than we do. A driver will exit a shopping center, enter the center turn lane and either stop or accelerate using it as a merge lane. It can be quite aggravating, especially when you are trying to turn into a business and the other driver is occupying the space designated for your turning movement.

This movement is covered under City Ordinance Sec. 25-3-3

“Two-way left turn lanes:
A two-way left turn lane is a lane near the center of the highway and designated by parallel double yellow lines, with the interior line dashed and the exterior line solid, on each side of the lane. Such lanes, whether with or without indicating arrows, shall be used only for making left-hand turns as provided in section 25-1-1/66-7-322, the completion of left-hand turns, or the crossing of such lane incident to crossing the roadway on which the lane is located. Through travel and passing in such lanes is unlawful.”

We have these areas on many of our streets in both business and residential areas. As explained in the above ordinance, these lanes are for turning movements only. These lanes are not to be used for any other purpose.

One of the reasons for this ordinance is to aid the flow of traffic. If a vehicle is occupying the space needed for a driver trying to make a left turn, it slows down all the traffic behind them. The vehicle stopped in the center lane can block the view of other drivers making this a contributing factor in a collision. Additionally, the sudden slowing of traffic can catch a driver unaware and a collision can be the result.
I’ve witnessed both on and off duty, drivers using the turning lanes as acceleration lanes and cutting other drivers off when merging into traffic. This causes frustration on the part of other drivers and occasionally a collision.

Please drive courteously; remember waiting those few extra moments can save you from being involved in a collision.

Snowbarger, Martin

Martin Snowbarger has been a law enforcement officer for 18 years. He’s worked for the Farmington Police Department for 15 years and in Raton, NM for three years. Officer Snowbarger has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2003 and has been a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Traffic Collision Reconstructionist for 11 years.

PRESS RELEASE: Farmington police respond to two burglaries over the weekend, suspects in custody

Farmington, NM – Farmington police responded to two burglaries over the weekend and apprehended suspects in both cases. The incidents took place on Friday, February 19. At approximately 4:20 p.m. officers were dispatched to a residence on Marseille Boulevard in reference to a burglary. The reporting party advised officers that he had left his home in the morning and when he returned he found that someone entered his residence and took his firearm. A witness informed officers that he saw the suspect acting suspicious outside the home and went over to confront him. The suspect became aggressive toward the man and threatened him before leaving. The witness was able to identify the suspect as a 16-year-old male who also lives in the area. Officers made contact with the suspect in a vehicle where the stolen firearm was recovered.

The suspect was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary, retaining stolen property, unlawful possession of a handgun by a person less than 19 years of age, resisting an officer, assault and criminal damage to property. He is being held at the San Juan County Juvenile Detention Center.

At approximately 11:20 p.m. officers were dispatched to Radio Shack on East Main Street in reference to an alarm. The first officer arrived on scene and found several glass doors and a window had been shattered. He looked inside the building and saw an individual pulling items from one of the shelves. Additional officers arrived on scene and set up a perimeter around the building. The suspect exited the store carrying a bag full of merchandise.

The suspect was identified as 20-year-old Kelsey Collins from Kirtland. Collins was arrested and charged with criminal damage to property, breaking and entering, larceny and burglary. She is being held at the San Juan County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.