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Sheriff’s office dispels rumors about dispatching services

May 18th, 2017 under Top Stories

By ROSARIO SALGADO HALPERN

rosario@bigbendnow.com

MARFA – Reports that Presidio County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers not answering 911 calls is a falsehood, said Presidio County Chief Deputy Joel Nuñez. “We are responding to 911 calls.”

The City of Marfa last week voted to provide its own police force and not renew a $180,000 law enforcement contract with the sheriff’s office that commenced in 2009.

Soon after last week’s city council meeting, when the contract with the sheriff was not renewed, the sheriff let three of his five deputies go because of financial constraints.

When asked if the sheriff’s office was refusing to answer calls in the city of Marfa, Nuñez said that it wasn’t a matter of not wanting to provide police services to the city, but rather it was a matter of not being able to do a whole lot with only two deputies.

“The two deputies are now working 24/7 to provide policing in the county and it is more difficult,” he said, adding that if the deputy on call is out in the county, for instance near the Marfa Lights Viewing site, than it will take a while longer for him to attend to a matter in town.

“We are responding to calls, but prioritizing more important ones,” Sheriff Danny Dominguez told the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel on Wednesday afternoon.

“If they need immediate help, like family violence, drunk on road, a life- saving situation, we will get there as soon as possible, but if the public can wait, we let them know that,” the sheriff said. “If the matter doesn’t need immediate response, if they want to talk to us about a situation, report someone throwing trash, for example, eventually we will get to those calls, or they can call city hall, and talk to the mayor or council persons, see if someone can help.”

He added that since his two deputies also patrol the county, they can’t always respond to calls immediately.

When told that talk around town was that 911 calls weren’t being answered, he said, “Of course we answer 911 calls.”

“If the public can provide documentation showing we are not answering 911 calls, I will correct the issue,” the sheriff said. “People talk like that but don’t know what really is happening.” He added that dispatch could be handling other calls, or that EMS is out on another call, therefore, the response time takes longer, but it isn’t because they are not answering 911 calls.

“If it takes 20 minutes response time it is because EMS, police, or fire takes that long to answer the call,” Domiinguez added. “A lot is out of our control. If we are ten miles out of town it takes time for deputies to get into town, or response to that call from EMS if they are on another call.”

He said there was no truth to the talk that a deputy is sent to assess a 911 call before sending an ambulance.

“These people don’t have facts to back up these accusations. We don’t assess, we get a call we call every one, EMS, fire, deputy on duty, it may seem that it takes forever, but we dispatch everyone.”

When asked about the vandalism reported at Marfa mayor-elect Ann Marie Nafziger’s house and how was that handled, it is true they were told to call the city of Marfa, Dominguez responded, “Correct, at the time, that was not a priority call. If they can wait we can get to it, they may have misinterpreted the response.”

He added that the burden is on the citizens of Marfa. “I didn’t put the strain or burden, the city council did that, unfortunately I am the bad guy. I don’t see anyone crucifying EMS or fire department, they are targeting one area, me.”

He added that the citizens of Marfa need to let City of Marfa officials know that they need to get a police department quick, because the longer they wait, more crime will occur. “You don’t see patrols out there,” he said.  “Only two deputies, and they can’t patrol the city and county.

Council put that burden on citizens, not me. They (City of Marfa officials) need to get with the program and get it going. Unfortunately, I am being blamed. I am the target.

The good Lord is clearing the path for me. I am not worried,” he said.

“Did they examine their own hearts when they made that decision,” he asked of Marfa City Council members.

“Council members who voted against the contract, what were their intentions, to kick the Sheriff from contract, or whatever, because now citizens don’t have a police force. They should answer to the citizens, not me.”

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