As the election grows near, voters want to know about the candidates. Over the next months the Observer will be posting Q and As as responses come in. These are the candidates in Sandoval County.

Jesse Casaus (D), candidate for Sandoval County Sheriff

Observer: What is your background in politics, crime and community?

I have 21 years of law enforcement experience both working in both large and small agencies. Starting as a state police officer, and now as the sheriff, my experience allows me to fully understand how the sheriff’s office functions from the ground up. I know the importance of continually engaging with the community on a variety of levels, as the community is vital to the success of an organization. I am a proven team-oriented professional with strong initiative, customer service, organizational and communication skills. I have learned, while serving as the Sheriff, the importance of developing relationships not only with law enforcement agencies, but with community stakeholders. This close partnership with the people and businesses we serve allows for more effective solutions to community and legislative challenges involving public safety.

Observer: Why are you running for sheriff?

I grew up in Sandoval County, and I currently live with my family in Sandoval County … this is a county that I have roots in and care deeply about. It is important to me that Sandoval County is a safe place to live and raise a family. My goal is to continue lowering crime rates in Sandoval County, which was accomplished over the last few years utilizing key partnerships with the Town of Bernalillo, Corrales, Rio Rancho, Tribal Police and surrounding agencies. Together we can continue the forward momentum to tackle crime and keep our county safe for residents and visitors.

Observer: Which areas of crime need the most attention currently?

Drugs and drug-related crime is a top priority for me and my team. I will continue evaluating shared information on criminal activity that can be addressed by the Multi-Jurisdictional Street Crimes/Drug Task Force, and seek out other members who can assist and add resources towards the goal of continuing to lower all categories of crime in all jurisdictions within Sandoval County.
Another issue requiring our direct attention is crimes against women and children. I want to work to continue expanding the new information sharing and multi-jurisdictional footprint with the Navajo Nation to better address issues that affect the safety of women, children and their families. I will continue to increase the number of deputies who have completed a Navajo Police Commission Course and have Navajo Police cross commissions, to assist with welfare checks on families and children that are staying off the reservation. In addition, the training and commissions will allow the sheriff’s office to further assist the Cuba Independent School District with welfare checks on Native American children who attend public school off the reservation.

Observer: What will you do about the ongoing fentanyl problem in Sandoval County?

I will continue the fight against illegal drugs in Sandoval County as I have over the last four years, including prioritizing the fight against fentanyl within our area. Under my direction the Street Crimes Intelligence Unit was created and, along with other divisions of the department, have seized over half a million dollars in illegal drugs. One example is a recent operation in August, where the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit intercepted the shipment of 22,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of methamphetamines.

Observer: As sheriff what are your expectations of law enforcement in Sandoval County?

I expect deputies and all law enforcement officers to consider it a duty and privilege, not only to protect our citizens from the criminal element, but also to protect and defend their rights guaranteed under the constitution. To enforce the law in an impartial manner, recognizing both the statutory and judicial limitations of law enforcement authority and the constitutional rights
of all persons. And lastly, I expect law enforcement agencies to work as a team with one another, whether they be, local, state, federal or tribal. Everyone working as one TEAM serves
our community and its people in the best way possible.