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Santa Fe chief takes top job in Las Cruces

SANTA FE — The Santa Fe Police Department’s chief confirmed Monday evening that he will moving south be Las Cruces’ new police chief early next year.

Patrick Gallagher, who was named SFPD’s interim chief in July 2015 and was named permanent chief the following January, was one of five finalists to be the chief of the Las Cruces Police Department. Gallagher said he was offered the job late last week and accepted it on Monday. He will leave the SFPD Dec. 15 and start his new job Jan. 15.

Patrick Gallagher

“It’s been a very challenging, rewarding time in Santa Fe,” Gallagher said. “It’s been an honor to work with the men and women in the Santa Fe Police Department.”

Santa Fe city spokesman Matt Ross said there is no immediate plan to replace Gallagher but added that Deputy Chiefs Mario Salbidrez and Andrew Padilla will take over command temporarily and report to City Manager Brian Snyder.

Gallagher, who made about $108,000 as Santa Fe’s top cop, said he’ll make about $125,000 a year on a two-year contract in Las Cruces. Las Cruces city government initially announced the hire in a press release Monday evening.

“Following a thorough recruitment process that involved community groups, representatives of the local police union, and senior level associates, I am pleased to report that we have selected an outstanding candidate to be our next police chief. Patrick G. Gallagher, who currently serves as police chief in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will be joining us as successor to Chief Jaime Montoya who retires at the end of this year,” Las Cruces City Manager Stuart Ed said in the release.

Gallagher told the Journal last week that the fact that Santa Fe is electing a new mayor in March partially played into his decision to look for employment elsewhere. Current Mayor Javier Gonzales recently announced that he will not run for re-election, and now six candidates are vying to replace him.

Gallagher was selected to be interim chief in 2015 after former Chief Eric Garcia 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.