Small-town politics created some big trouble for a New Mexico police department.
The long-time police chief of Jal, New Mexico (population 2,000), was filmed by a hidden camera having sex with a woman in the back of an ambulance on town property.
For his inappropriate activity, the chief was hit with a two-week unpaid suspension.
Ironically perhaps, the would-be whistleblower got fired.
City manager Bob Gallagher explained that Chief Larry Burns — who also is in charge of the town’s emergency medical services — wasn’t misbehaving on duty. Reportedly, Chief Burns was wearing a gun and badge during one of the encounters in question, however.
Gallagher told Albuquerque’s KRQE that “In this case there was no criminal activity whatsoever, there was no proof whatsoever that it was on duty when he should have been working. I think it was lapse of judgment. Something that I don’t think will keep him from being able to perform his duties when he comes back.”
Burns is up for election as a magistrate judge.
It turned out that a police sergeant who was not a fan of the chief’s political aspirations allegedly planted the camera that caught Burns getting hot and heavy. As a result, Sgt. Joshua Terrell subsequently lost his job because he apparently violated various personnel rules in connection with sneaking into the ambulance garage with the secret video camera and also releasing the video to public rather than taking it to his superiors. Had the officer gone through channels, he apparently would have qualified for municipal whistleblower protections.
Said Gallagher according to the Albuquerque Journal:
“I am saddened and extremely angry over these violations that were premeditated, carefully planned and deceitfully performed in order to disgrace, hurt and derail the chances of a candidate for public office… I don’t have any doubt from the information I have corroborated that this was done in a vicious manner to get the police chief fired and specifically, almost verbatim, ‘I do not want him to be magistrate judge.'”
The New Mexico State Police have declined Gallagher’s request to investigate the incident.
[image via Shutterstock]