NM fire chief under fire for conducting traffic stop

This was not the first time the fire chief’s actions sparked controversy

By PoliceOne Staff

LOS LUNAS, N.M. — Valencia County Fire Chief Steven Gonzales is being investigated by police after pulling over a driver.

KRQE reported local police were not happy to find out the fire chief pulled over a driver, Los Lunas Police Chief Naithan Gurule told the news site.

“Law enforcement are the only ones that can make a traffic stop,” Gurule said. “Somebody who’s not law enforcement is not trained in conducting traffic stops. You also have the issue of, you don’t know… what’s gonna happen.

Gonzales pulled over a driver for allegedly speeding on a highway and then called a dispatcher.

“Can I have a Los Lunas police officer meet me on I-25 just south of [mile marker] 203?” Gonzales said. “I have a vehicle, silver Camry pulled over [for] excessive speed and reckless driving.”

Gonzales called again after the driver fled the scene and the officer en route was cancelled. However, the officer’s supervisor was not happy to hear the fire chief pulled over a civilian. 

Gurule launched an investigation into Gonzales’ actions and filed an official complaint with Valencia County. Gonzales was placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

This was not the first controversial incident for Gonzales, who only a couple weeks prior found himself in a scandal when racy photos of the uniformed chief with bikini-clad women surfaced online while he was at a training conference in Indianapolis. 

“We find it very troublesome, it’s very concerning,” said Valencia County Manager Danny Monette. “There’s some things the allegations assume that could have long term consequences on the chief.”

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