Weird Year

I haven't blogged recently and for a good reason: home remodel. I hope to be finished soon and immerse myself in more consistent blogging and book writing.


I'm always humbled when anyone compliments me on my writing. I was contacted by a reader in Oklahoma who had just finished the novel Adultery & Murder, the first book in the Bela Garcia series. Bela is a violent crimes investigator in the fictional city of Las Palmas, New Mexico, and her supervisor is her ex-husband. To say that their relationship is dysfunctional and filled with fireworks would be an understatement. I followed that book up with the next two in the series, The Immigrant Murders and The Mack Daddy Affair. In between those two books was A Conspiracy Of Evil, the first in another series about a cop named Joe Guerrero whose daughter is murdered.


Hope your holidays are shaping up in a reasonably good fashion. It has been a weird year, certainly the strangest of my life. Not just Covid, but the outright idiocy around the country over defunding the police, and DAs in certain cities deciding that prosecuting criminals is no longer a viable means of addressing crime. Rising crime, especially violent crime, has been the result. One chuckle I have gotten from all of this is the dismay voiced by certain anti-police organizations over the new administration, which is coming into office in 2021, not quite embracing their vision of the future. What, a politician promised that if you vote for me I'll give you what you want, and then they went back on their word?


One issue I've been wanting to address is a bit of news within city government that I found disturbing. I was told that city councilors who have LCPD community policing officers in their districts are allowed to contact the officers directly with concerns. That blew me away, and here's why. For decades, and this is consistent in every city I've ever known about with the type of government used by Las Cruces, councilors were prohibited from having direct contact with city employees regarding operational matters.There's a good reason for this: it causes undue influence, violates the chain of command, and interferes with the communication process.


Councilors who have cops on speed dial to address their personal concerns regarding issues in their neighborhoods are causing more problems than they solve. Calling the officer directly skips the chain of command and supervisors may never know what the concerns were, which means that management does not know and neither does the department head, in this the case the chief of police. The councilor may fail to tell the city manager of his/her actions, and the result is no documentation of how resources are being utilized and how problems are being resolved.


It's not fair to put the monkey on the backs of the officers and dictate that it is their responsibility to notify their immediate chain of command each time a councilor calls. The supervisor may be tied up, the officer gets busy doing his/her job, and in the discharge of their everyday duties the matter is overlooked or forgotten. It is not an effective means of operation. In my career I knew self-important councilors (and a couple of mayors) who violated protocol and had to be instructed by the city manager on proper procedure.


Councilors with a concern about events in their respective districts, whether it be police-related or otherwise, are supposed to contact the city manager, who passes the matter on to the appropriate department head, and the issue is then given to the supervisor of whichever unit can best provide a solution. Once resolved, the supervisor advises the department head of how the problem was handled, the head of department in turn notifies the manager, and the manager communicates the resolution provided to the councilor. It is a simple, effective and orderly means of running government and disallows political pressure on line officers.


Stay healthy and Semper Fidelis.



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J.R. LONSWAY

AUTHOR | RETIRED DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE

J.R. Lonsway served 22 years with the Las Cruces, New Mexico, police department and retired as a Deputy Chief of Police. After retirement he served with the U.S. Department of State as a police advisor in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Liberia, Haiti, Lebanon, and South Sudan. He is a former U.S. Marine.

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