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Santa Fe Police chief finalist for Las Cruces job

SANTA FE – An uncertain future in a new mayor’s administration has led Santa Fe’s police chief to apply for the chief’s job in Las Cruces.

Las Cruces City Manager Stuart Ed confirmed Friday that Santa Fe Chief Patrick Gallagher is one of five finalists to be the head of the Las Cruces Police Department. Ed said he’ll announce his decision next week.

Police Chief Patrick Gallagher

Gallagher, who became SFPD’s interim chief in July 2015 before being given the job permanently the following January, said the fact that Santa Fe will have a new mayor in March played into his decision to look for employment elsewhere.

Mayor Javier Gonzales announced recently that he will not run for re-election, and seven candidates have said they will run in the March city elections to succeed him. “I don’t know where I’d fit in that new administration, so I’m exploring options,” Gallagher said.

On Friday, Gallagher said he was unsure if he would pack up and leave Santa Fe if he gets offered the job in Las Cruces. Gallagher’s wife, state Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher, will presumably have a job at the DOH office in Santa Fe through the end of next year, but she could be replaced when a new governor takes office in 2019. Gov. Susana Martinez, in her second term, can’t run again next year.

“My wife and I will have to sit down and have a comprehensive conversation about what we would do,” Chief Gallagher said. “I don’t know what I would do, to tell you the truth. There are lots of variables we have to consider.”

Gallagher was selected to be interim chief in 2015 after former Chief Eric Garcia suddenly resigned. He served 29 years in the New York City Police Department before taking the job as the Truth or Consequences police chief in 2009. He later became a professional standards captain for internal affairs at SFPD under then-Chief Ray Rael in 2012 and a training specialist for the city’s human resources department in 2014.

Ed said Gallagher stands out because he has experience working in a large police department and is a “seasoned” police chief in New Mexico.

“Chief Gallagher did extraordinarily well (in the recruitment process),” Ed said. “The city of Santa Fe is lucky to have him as its police chief.”