Monday News Roundup: Albuquerque Police Get Interim Chief

Aug 5, 2013

Albuquerque Police Get Interim Chief - Associated Press

The state's largest city has a new police chief — at least for now.

Former Albuquerque Deputy Chief Allen Banks is now leading the department as interim chief. The department's eight-year long chief Ray Schultz retired last week.

Banks will lead the department until after Mayor Richard Berry chooses a new leader following a national search. Berry says he will make a decision after the mayoral election later this year.

The Albuquerque Police Department is under a U.S. Justice Department investigation over alleged cases of excessive force.

Audit: Nonprofit Operators Earned $1.5 Million - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

An audit of 15 New Mexico behavioral health providers says a couple who run a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that provides Medicaid-funded services to children and families is estimated to make as much as $1.5 million a year in salaries and other income.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the audit says Shannon and Lorraine Freedle derived much of that income from leases paid by the nonprofit, TeamBuilders Counseling Services Inc., to holding companies owned in full or in part by the Freedles and other TeamBuilders officers.

In June, the state froze payments to 15 nonprofits that provide mental health and substance abuse services after the audit found what the agency said was a high rate of billing and possible mismanagement.

A TeamBuilders attorney called information from the audit "grossly inaccurate."

NM To Expand Use Of Veterans In Fighting Wildfires - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez says her administration plans to expand a program next year of using military veterans as firefighters during the wildfire season.

The governor said she will ask the Legislature for money to hire 60 veterans for firefighting hand crews.

The state started a pilot program this year with nearly 40 military veterans joining roughly 250 seasonal firefighters typically hired by New Mexico.

Martinez said last week the program has been successful and she wants to make it permanent.

Crews of military veterans were dispatched to more than a dozen fires in New Mexico, including the Tres Lagunas fire near Pecos and the Silver fire in southern New Mexico. Two crews also have been sent to assist with fires in Oregon.

Plan Would Expand Range In Ariz. For Gray Wolves - Associated Press and the Arizona Daily Sun

The federal government is floating a plan that would let endangered Mexican gray wolves roam north toward Flagstaff and across Arizona for the first time in generations.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports that the government's wolf reintroduction program has limited the animals to a recovery area that straddles the Arizona-New Mexico state line.

Officials released a draft of proposed changes last month that, if put into effect, would let wolves roam from western Arizona to eastern New Mexico between Interstates 40 and 10.

The government's effort to reintroduce Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona has stumbled due to legal battles, illegal shootings and other factors.

The plan calls for expanding the area where the wolves could roam to include parts of central New Mexico's Cibola National Forest.

Contractor Picked For New Mexico Highway Project - Associated Press

A contractor has been picked to build a new freeway interchange on Interstate 25 in northern Albuquerque.

The $93 million Paseo del Norte/Interstate 25 project is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete.

The project includes adding two ramps to the interchange.

Officials say the aim is to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

Horse Dies During Race At Downs At Albuquerque - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

A horse died and his jockey was badly injured during a race at the Downs at Albuquerque after the animal broke a leg bone, collapsed and died on the track.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that jockey Macario Rodriguez was in satisfactory condition at University of New Mexico Hospital after his horse, Rasken, collapsed while in the lead Friday during the opening day of races at the track.

A state veterinarian determined that the nature of Rasken's injury didn't warrant a full necropsy to look for illegal drugs.

But Vincent Mares, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, says the horse's blood and urine were collected and will be sent to a California university lab, which will also test for drugs.

Mares says the jockey suffered non-life-threatening injuries.