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Renew G.O. bond

Chief Stewart Steele

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — It is my honor to serve the Rio Rancho Police Department and the fine citizens of Rio Rancho as the police chief.
In March of 2018, citizens in Rio Rancho voted in favor of a general obligation (G.O.) bond that funded the replacement of police and fire vehicles. For the police department, that meant 50 brand-new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs.
It was imperative that we replace the fleet of vehicles to ensure the safe and efficient response of our officers to emergency calls for service.
In a city covering over 100 square miles, it is important that our police officers get where they need to go safely. Our police officers are thankful the voters approved the G.O. bond in 2018; the people we help every day are appreciative as well.
The voters will be asked to renew the G.O. bond in the upcoming March election. We have specific goals that will enhance public safety and improve the quality of our aging police headquarters.
We are often called to large-scale events and emergencies throughout the city. This requires a functional command post and mobile work space for the officers and detectives.
Our current mobile command-post vehicle is rapidly aging to the point where repairs are no longer practical. It is older than some of our new officers.
G.O. bond renewal will provide funding to purchase a new mobile command post, one that is aligned with our mission and practical to our needs.
Without a doubt, it is important that our officers are able to speak to each other and to our dispatch operators. With G.O. bond renewal, we plan to enhance our radio communications coverage with a new repeater on Southern Boulevard, which will provide better radio contact for officers in the southwestern area of our city.
Vehicles will continue to be a need for our officers; the 50 new police cars, trucks and SUVs certainly have helped improve our fleet. With a current staff of 135 officers, each will need a reliable mode of transportation to get around our large and expansive city.
If renewed, the G.O. bond will fund additional replacement vehicles for our officers. We still have 30 police cars beyond the recommended life span for law enforcement vehicles.
Our police headquarters is in need of improvement on the exterior and interior of the building.
The G.O. bond renewal will allow us to make renovations that will include a covering/awning for our police motorcycles and drainage improvements in the police parking lot area. We also plan to expand the police gym, an area used by a majority of our officers to stay in strong physical shape.
If approved, the renewal of the G.O. bond will not result in an increase to current property taxes. Should the citizens of Rio Rancho decide against renewing the G.O. bond, residents will notice an $18 decrease for every $100,000 of value to a home.
Visit rrnm.gov/2020election for additional information about the March 3 election.
(Stewart Steele has served as Rio Rancho police chief since August 2017.)

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