Editor’s note: This is one of two stories about the projects the Rio Rancho municipal public-safety bond on the March 3 ballot would fund if approved. This article discusses the proposed Rio Rancho Police Department projects. The second article will cover proposed Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department projects and appear online at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1.

Rio Rancho Police Capt. Andrew Rodriguez talks about the department’s mobile command post, which is a 25-year-old refurbished recreational vehicle. The exterior awning is secured with duct tape, and the motor doesn’t always start. Photo by Argen Marie Duncan.

The municipal public-safety bond on the ballot March 3 would allow the Rio Rancho Police Department to replace aging vehicles and fix problems at the station.

The bond would raise $3.79 million earmarked for public safety and be repaid through property taxes. Approving the bond would keep taxes at the current level, while voting it down would result in a decrease in property taxes of $18 per $100,000 of taxable value.

“Our goal is always to achieve our mission, the health, safety and welfare of the public,” said Rio Rancho Police Capt. Andrew Rodriguez.

He said RRPD hopes to buy about 17 new patrol vehicles with the bond proceeds if it passes. Deputy Police Chief Paul Rogers said the exact number will depend on the price of the cars at the time of purchase.

The 2018 public-safety bond, the first of its kind in Rio Rancho, allowed the police department to get 50 new vehicles.

“We’d like to thank the public for supporting us in that endeavor,” Rodriguez said.

RRPD still has vehicles with 100,000 or more miles on them, while the industry recommendation is retiring police vehicles from daily use at 80,000 miles. He said police vehicles get more wear and tear than civilian cars for the miles they travel due to fast emergency driving, navigating rural roads and idling for long periods to run the on-board computers, lights and other equipment.

Police are also hoping to replace their mobile command post, a 1995 refurbished recreational vehicle.

“It’s gotten to the point where there’s a 50-50 chance of it starting,” Rogers said.

Rodriguez said the vehicle has needed a lot of repairs, which run up costs, and it always breaks again.

RRPD officers have had to borrow other agencies’ command vehicles, which aren’t always available, or work out of their trunks.

“We make it work, but we could be a lot more proficient,” Rogers said.

Rodriguez said officers need a secure, out-of-the-weather place with good communication equipment to work during critical incidents. Vendors would build a new command vehicle to RRPD’s specifications, and it would be more durable and fuel-efficient, he said.

In addition, police would like to use bond money for renovations to the station on Quantum Road.

“The size of our department has outgrown the size of our gym, and we’d like to expand it,” Rodriguez said.

Rogers said a wall would be taken down to allow the gym to expand into a hall, and two new walls would box in that section of hallway. Blocking that hall, which is now unsecured, would increase security at the department, he said.

Rodriguez said the gym helps officers be healthy and prepared, so they can chase down suspects, handle the stress of the job, etc.

Also, Rogers said RRPD showers are in such bad repair that they’re degrading the structure around them with condensation and mold.

In another project, he said part of the bond money, if approved, would go to an awning for one side of the building. The cover would protect police motorcycles from the weather, and stop rain and snow from blowing in two doors.

The eastern parking lot in the department’s gated area also needs work to improve drainage and lessen erosion. Rogers said the bond would provide for that work, a first step in later rehabilitating the lot.

Finally, Rodriguez said RRPD would use bond money to get a new radio-system repeater to allow better communication among officers and firefighters in the developing Los Diamantes subdivision.

“These are things that have been in the works for a long period of time,” Rogers said, adding that money hasn’t been available for the projects and vehicles before.

Rogers said people who have questions about the proposed bond can attend one of the public meetings on the subject or drop by the police department. A Facebook Live question-and-answer session is also set for next week.

See rrnm.gov for details.