New Mexico Town's Only Certified Police Officer Is a Dog
Following the resignation of police chief Ernest "Chris" Armijo on Wednesday, the small Eastern town of Vaughn has only Nikka, a drug-sniffing dog, available as a certified police officer on its roster. Non-certified officers are not allowed to make arrests or carry firearms.
But with a population of only 450, Vaughn, which is largely an overnight stop for railroad workers, is not concerned about its safety, having no history of crime, despite being deemed by U.S. Homeland Security officials as part of a region found popular with drug traffickers.
"There's just a whole lot of nothing going on here," resident Joyce Tabor told the Associated Press, adding that locals are embarrassed by the attention the situation has brought. "It's quiet. So this really doesn't matter."
Armijo decided to resign after it was declared he was not allowed to carry a gun due to thousands of dollars in delinquent child support payments, in addition to new felony charges of possibly selling a town-owned rifle for profit. The only other officer in Vaughn is also uncertified after pleading guilty to battery and assault last year.
Dave Romero, an attorney for the town, said Vaughn has not decided it if it will hire a new police chief, or even retain Nikka in its employ, as she was in the care of Armijo. But for the time being, help remains just a bark away.