Center Board approves drug dog

Officer Aaron Fresquez will be policing Center streets soon with his drug dog Maverick. Courtesy photo

CENTER — In a unanimous vote, the Center Town Board approved a resolution to fund a drug dog for the town, something all members agreed is greatly needed and is desired by most Center residents.


The dog will be handled by Sgt. Aaron Fresquez, who has advocated for the K-9 since 2014.


Sgt. Fresquez will be responsible for the dog as long as he is with the town. The dog will only be used in suspected drug cases, not other police operations.


The approval will be supplemented by reports regarding the handling of seizures during a drug raid and liability issues with the town’s insurance provider, CIRSA. A lively discussion regarding the seizures and who would benefit from them was held by the board before the dog’s approval. Town attorney Michael Trujillo said he would look into the issues and advise the town.


Sgt. Fresquez said in an email following the meeting that his dog Maverick is a three-year-old Belgian Malinois imported from Germany. “He was originally owned by an Aurora police officer who used him for personal protection so is already trained; it’s just a matter of making sure he still knows it, and we can and go from there.


“We just have to get him certified by the state and federal guidelines and he is active,” Sgt. Fresquez explained. “I work with him right now even before the approval. He still has an amazing drive and will be a great addition to the team. This program will be very beneficial to the town of Center.”

COVID-19 update
Center Town Administrator Brian Lujan gave an update on the COVID-19 situation in the town reporting that as of Tuesday there are 104 positive cases in Center and Rio Grande County. “I don’t know if any of these have cleared quarantine,” he noted. Police Chief Gene Meek is the Incident Commander to contact during the outbreak, he told the board.


The board discussed the difficulty in getting accurate numbers for the testing and hospitalizations, but they are doing better with updating and double counts. Trustee Bill McClure said he has heard there were 17 people in the hospital. Lujan told him four people were hospitalized at Rio Grande Hospital as of Monday.


Lujan said the numbers can be doubly counted if some test positive for COVID then go back. Trustee Peggy Martinez said that those wishing to be retested for the virus cannot be retested without a doctor’s order. Janet Beiriger is working on a map to help track Center cases, Lujan added.

Other business
• Police Chief Gene Meek told the board there was one burglary last month and several citations for people driving without their licenses. Otherwise things have been quiet, he said, mainly because of the stay-at-home order for COVID. Center police cadets will graduate June 19, he reported, and will start working for the town shortly thereafter.


• Utility director David MeHaffie reported that water meter installation is going slowly and “they are doing the hard ones now.” Lujan and MeHaffie discussed the need to meet the Dept. of Local Affairs deadline for use of grant funds. Lujan noted the deadline could be extended but said he hopes this will not be necessary.


• County Attorney Michael Trujillo discussed a lawsuit against the town for an injury which occurred to a resident during water meter installation. Other defendants will probably be joining the suit, he informed the board. The town’s insurance carrier CIRSA has assigned an attorney to the case.


• The board approved resolutions to replant trees in Casa Blanca Park that died over the winter and hire someone to tend to flower beds at the park.


• Lujan said Community Park is being sprayed for weed control after some citizens complained about the park’s appearance.

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