Lake Arthur, NM Chief of Police Resigns Amid Pay-For-Play Reserve Program

courtesy krqe.com

The Lake Arthur, New Mexico Police Department is on the hot seat. To many, Lake Arthur is a small town in the middle of nowhere with a population of about 430 residents. It’s 33 miles south of Roswell, smack dab between Lubbock and El Paso.

But the Lake Arthur PD has an unusually large reserve police force with more than 100 “officers” on its roster. As krqe.com reports,

“We started it out as a way to have more law enforcement here in the town,” Lake Arthur’s long-time Mayor Ysidro Salazar said. “Our community is so small that we can’t afford to pay a police officer a lot of money.”

(Police Chief) Will Norwood came up with a suggestion to help the village with a no-cost law enforcement solution. Norwood submitted his proposal to the Lake Arthur Town Council. “He came up with the idea that maybe we can have some reserves and they’ll help us out,” Mayor Salazar recollected.

Norwood proposed forming a Lake Arthur posse of sorts, a group of volunteers called Reserve Officers who could help keep the village safe. Because reservists are not certified police officers, under New Mexico law they do not have law enforcement powers to act on their own and they cannot make arrests.

But 80% of them live outside New Mexico.

The Lake Arthur Reserve Police Program was launched in 2005. But instead of recruiting local residents, the “Chief” rounded up a posse from across the country. There were ex-military buddies, gun enthusiasts and a handful of celebrities.

Some of them are prominent names in the firearms industry while others are prominent politically. These people “joined” the force to get a badge and the attendant 50-state concealed carry privileges that go with it under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act.

Names you might recognize include like Duane Liptak (a director of Magpul ), Mark LaRue (LaRue Tactical), Jon Canipe (also with Magpul Dynamics), Charles Pressburg (Presscheck Consulting) just to name a few.

The conservative billionaire Koch Brothers also had their bodyguards armed and authorized through Lake Arthur PD. Other big names are US Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell of Lone Survivor fame and Rob O’Neil, the SEAL who claimed to kill Osama Bin Laden along with Andrew Arrabito, former SEAL and now part time movie actor.

KRQE News 13 discovered that the Lake Arthur Police Chief, Will Norwood abused his authority by passing out legitimate police credentials.

…Lake Arthur’s “Chief” abused his authority by passing out legitimate police credentials. In exchange for a $400 annual fee paid to the private Lake Arthur Reserve Police Officer Association, the credentials Will Norwood issued gave his friends full police powers with statewide authority. A Lake Arthur commission card allows an individual to wear badges, carry concealed weapons, bypass accredited training and play cop.

 

Chief Norwood has since resigned.

Mayor Ysidro Salazar now says he is “bothered” by Norwood handing police commissions to his out-of-state friends. Did the village law enforcement chief mislead the Town Council? “Yeah, he probably did,” Mayor Salazar said.

“Because of you asking for the names (on the Lake Arthur police roster) to be released, a lot of the Reserve Unit resigned,” Mayor Salazar said. “When (the officers) resigned I dismantled the Reserve Unit.” He said all the Lake Arthur police credentials issued by Will Norwood have been recalled and will be destroyed.

Most amazing is that under the law, Lake Arthur’s Reserve Program didn’t qualify for LEOSA carry privileges due to New Mexico’s low police standards. In New Mexico, reserve officers only have authority when working with a full-time sworn officer. Off duty, they carry no weight. But Chief Norwood apparently didn’t tell his reserve officers that.

courtesy krqe.com

The danger of a program like this comes when out-of-state law enforcement encounter one of these badge-holders. LEOSA states that someone can carry if they’re issued photo ID and credentials and have the authority under law and agency policy to carry off duty and make arrests.

But your average beat cop in, say, Florida isn’t going to call the Lake Arthur PD and ask for a copy of their policy. Nor is he going to call the New Mexico State Police Standards Board. He’s going to see a badge and ID and go on what his own agency has told him. Cops can carry off duty across the country if they can carry off duty at home. And the vast majority of agencies have their cops carry off duty.

As a law enforcement officer, I am 100% in favor of national reciprocity for all Americans. And I am 100% opposed to what happened in Lake Arthur. Not just because I’m a cop. I’m against it because it diminishes the stature of honest reserve police all over the country. These are cops that joined for no pay to help serve their communities.

This wasn’t an altruistic action by Chief Norwood as a way to expand the number of peace officers, or let more people exercise their Second Amendment rights. It was a pay to play scheme, pure and simple.

A number of big wigs in the gun industry are legitimate reserve cops. Travis Haley (of Magpul and Haley Strategic fame) is a reserve officer. He serves his agency by donating training to the department and other agencies that saves tax payers dollars and makes for better law enforcement officers. Another honest big wig is Massad Ayoob. He’s been a reserve police officer with the Grantham, New Hampshire Police Department since 1972 and he actively serves his community.

There appears to have been nothing honorable or altruistic in the Lake Arthur scheme. This is no different than the CCW schemes in California where former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca gave out CCW permits to major campaign donors. The rich and well-connected got permits and regular citizenry were left defenseless.

News like this doesn’t help the cause National Reciprocity at all. In fact it hurts. Furthermore, the fact that there are some names from the industry involved doesn’t further our cause either.

(PDF: Lake Arthur Reserve Police Officer Roster)

 

 

comments

  1. avatar Bob says:

    Reading the linked news articles. There are a number of folks. Duane Liptak just got elected to the NRA Board of Directors.

    Dan Bilzerian is on the list. He’s the idiot that ran around during the Vegas shooting begging a cop for a gun.

    https://youtu.be/2Bd3qgLsqJs

    Charles Pressburg is the guy that shot his brother in law in some bar last year while drunk and claimed he was a cop too.

    And all over Arfcom, someone in Blackhawk even uses their badge for their ads.

    https://www.ar15.com/media/mediaFiles/314713/LakeArthur1-529102.JPG

  2. avatar Sam I Am says:

    It pissed off non-reserve cops around the country (who are oh, so special). It avoided a bunch of unconstitutional laws. It had gun grabbers collapsing with the vapors.

    It was an ingenious plan.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      Except I doubt you’d be able to apply since you’re just some guy off the street. Now if you were some high speed snake eater or some owner of a business that can give the chief free stuff. Then yeah…. but if you’re just a normal guy. That chief would have told you to hit the door.

      None of this allowed every day guys to apply and get a work around restrictive states like NY. It was only the rich and connected.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Your point?

    2. avatar Bloving says:

      From a Trolls perspective- yup, pretty clever… and I’d hazard a guess that the number of Reserve Officers who caused any trouble in any other state can probably be rounded down to zero… which is, of course, the whole point: good people don’t require a badge or permission slip to remain good. And taking that permission away will not transform them into bad people.
      Yeah, fine… what the sheriff did was wrong – perhaps illegal… so slap his wrist already… going forward though I still say he proved a very valid point for us.
      🤠

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “…going forward though I still say he proved a very valid point for us.”

        Yep.

  3. avatar FedUp says:

    I’m not too sure about what they money’s being used for here.

    In a similar ‘scandal’ in Michigan a while back, a tinytown chief had a couple hundred reserve officers, most of whom didn’t reside in the same county as the town. The money went straight into the police budget and bought squad cars etc.

    Hey, Mr Highly Respected Physician, would you like to pay a couple of thousand for some LE training and receive the same privileges and immunities as the most undeserving cop in the state, including the right to carry your sidearm into a hospital?
    And that’s pretty much what it was, pillars of their communities, mostly doctors from Detroit area hospitals, getting badges and the legal status associated with cophood.

    Big effing deal. Let me know when their violent crime rate reaches 10% of any group of 200 full time cops.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Except for, apparently in this case, they received no such immunities or benefits.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        But took advantage of them anyway.

  4. avatar Geoff PR says:

    ” Off duty, they carry no weight. But Chief Norwood apparently tell his reserve officers that.”

    Should that read –

    “… apparently didn’t tell his reserve officers that.”?

    A devious, slimy, plan.

    I’m just pissed I didn’t get in on it…

    *mutter* 😉

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      I would gladly have dropped $400/year for 50 state carry credentials.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        Me too, but that’s not what they got. At least not when you really take a look at it, they had zero authority except for when they were actually on duty and in accordance with their duties.

        1. avatar Jon in CO says:

          That’s the only thing I have an issue with about this story. Guys went in thinking they were getting something that they weren’t. And as for the pay to play thing, how many counties in communist America play the same game for state permits? If you don’t have the money and the hook up with the chief, you don’t get one.

        2. avatar Omer says:

          Government over promises and under performs, yet again. Here’s my shocked face.

  5. avatar strych9 says:

    I am SHOCKED that something silly would happen in New Mexico!

    Just a couple years back the PD Chief and, previously, the Sheriff, in Santa Fe got busted for a scam involving this kinda thing.

    Basically they used the money to create a separate fund for new equipment, nothing wrong with that except that the separate fund was off the books. Then they took the gear and sold it for personal profit…

  6. avatar MeRp says:

    This, of course, is terrible and should never happen… because LEOs should not have any special rights that non-LEO civilians don’t have. Seriously; corrupt special status will, of course, always breed further corruption.

    I’ve considered looking for one of these places in the past; if I was an LEO it would certainly make a lot of stuff more smooth, and open doors of possibility that are absolutely completely closed to me now. But I’ve always come to the same conclusion; buying into the corrupt system is, ultimately, not going to be worth the benefits I gain.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      If I could propose one law to screw over the antis this would be it. Forget concealed carry, pass a federal law that says any LEO is not allowed to have any arms that a typical citizen in the state cannot have, and they can not carry it in a manner that a typical citizen is allowed to save a few places like jails.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      “I was an LEO it would certainly make a lot of stuff more smooth, and open doors of possibility that are absolutely completely closed to me now”

      What would that stuff be? I guess it depends on your state, but at least here in Texas, the only thing it would allow you to do is walk into a bar with a gun, as long as you were on duty or on call.

      On the other hand, there are quite a few downsides to it. If a non-leo gets a dwi, their company usually doesn’t know. If a leo gets a dwi, they are likely losing their job. It also opens you up for all sorts of civil lawsuits that the average non leo rarely has to deal with.

  7. avatar DaveL says:

    the attendant 50-state concealed carry privileges

    This goes to show that anytime you hand out special privileges, eventually someone is going to monetize them. It happened with NYPD’s handgun permits, it continues to happen with CA cops selling off-roster handguns.

  8. avatar michael in ak says:

    This “scheme” has been run by many, many cities over the years. Its part of the reason you see states tightening up their requirements for reserves.

  9. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    “Absolute power corrupts absolutely……”

  10. avatar neiowa says:

    I wonder what “news” outlets get for selling their creds. Think of the doors CNN etc ID would get you. Entry into every progtards booze/broad joint in the world. Into every fiction writers convention. Demo rides in F16s and M1s with the military.

  11. avatar DaveDetroit says:

    So… was any actual law broken or was this just not PC? If the guy didn’t directly benefit from the fees… where’s the crime? And if this was legal, it sounds like a great way for a smaller department to raise funds. Anyone?

  12. avatar MarkPA says:

    I think this is a useful announcement.

    Congress has created 2 National Reciprocity Laws:
    1. LEOSA
    2. Armored Car Industry Reciprocity Act

    So, that nice OFWG from out-of-state carrying a concealed weapon (that you can’t see). Well, he does so under a Congressional law giving certain privileged people to carry in YOUR State based purely on credentials issued by some State in Fly-Over-Country.

    Of course, that nice OFWG with a gun has been subjected to rigorous training and testing by his employer. Or, at least that was the case years ago before he retired if he is no longer a sworn officer. In any case, the rigorous training and testing required for his badge and ID from that OTHER State has nothing whatsoever to do with the requirements YOUR State Legislature has imposed on cops or armored-car drivers working in your neighborhoods.

    So, what do you make of this? Are you:
    – Shocked! SHOCKED!! that Congress allows gun carriers in your State who have merely met the lax requirements in some Fly-Over-Country State?
    – Shocked! that you aren’t seeing blood-in-the-streets?

    Call your Congress-critters! Call your State legislators!! Tell them exactly what you think about this situation.

    1. avatar Justin_GA says:

      I’m not sure if you are being satirical about the fact that in -state and out of state LEO “special” concealed carry privilege is a joke or not.

  13. avatar Arandom Dude says:

    This is a predictable situation, and I would be shocked if this was the only such pay to play reserve scam. In may-issue CCP states, some jurisdictions are effectively no issue. Those with deep pockets and good connections will find a way to get permits for themselves and their bodyguards, and the plebeians are left defenseless.

  14. avatar Justin_GA says:

    I know everyone’s going to hate me for saying this….BUT…… If I knew of a pay for play program like this that gave me completely legal LEOSA privileges I would pay a reasonable yearly “maintenance” fee. I am 101% for national reciprocity and citizens/LEO’s having the same rights and treatment under law. Though I am a realist and I know once you make a special class of individuals with special privileges and with extended freedoms, those individuals are going to fight tooth and nail to keep themselves in and others out of that special extended freedoms class. It doesn’t matter that you or I could pass the firearm qualifications with a homemade musket with a bent barrel. They just aren’t going to give you LEOSA type privileges.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Well, I agree completely, but I kinda wonder …. Can’t LEOs buy select fire, silencers, SBRs and so forth without tax tickets? Seems to me they can. Boy, would THAT be worth $400/year!

  15. avatar JW says:

    All animals are created equal, just some are more equal than others.

    What if you had to pay like this to vote? Or to speak? To go to church?

    #ShallNot

    I’m am tired of seeing criminals possess with impunity what we are constitutionally promised, and instead have to plead for, or worse – to lie and to pay for.

  16. avatar Gherkin250S says:

    I grew up fishing and paddling on Lake Arthur…its a puddle in eastern NM. The only thing I’m suprised about is that all of my buddies and I didn’t know about this deal! Classic New Mex stuff. If you didn’t grow up there or haven’t spent much time there, you wouldn’t understand. For people of means or people in the right family, laws are a mere suggestion in NM. It’s an interesting place to grow up……

  17. avatar ironicatbest says:

    The only thing bad about being a reserve officer is Waffle Houses are dangerous

  18. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

    I actually don’t see this revelation as bad. Now that yet another pay for play scheme has been uncovered it just adds fuel to the fire that National Reciprocity should be the norm.

  19. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Yeah, I read somewhere that Donald Trump had a CC permit in NYC over 30 years ago. Since such a thing did not exist, wonder how he accomplished that?

  20. avatar ryanl says:

    Not everybody plays by the same rules.

    Sometimes the curtain gets pulled back and folks get a peak.

    People get pissed for a fleeting moment.

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