Alamogordo Mayor Susan Payne Seeks Truancy Parks Curfew Solutions

Image Mayor Susan Payne proposes ordinances to strengthen enforcement of truancy laws, curfew and to reduce teenage crime

The small southern New Mexico City of Alamogordo has been plagued with a rash of murders, violent suicides, police chases and shootings in public parks during the most recent two months. The citizens of the city of Alamogordo at the convergence on Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss are on edge, frustrated, sad and somber with a recent rash of crime.

Alamogordo is a conservative city with many church's and few bars, a city where the military is the largest industry and many former military come to retire. Within a few miles of Alamogordo is a huge tourist attraction the White Sands National Park and 15 minutes up the Mountain is the Ski Community of Cloudcroft at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet. Alamogordo is the county seat, a place of commerce and up until recently one of the safer communities in New Mexico.

Alamogordo has had a rash of murders in recent weeks; a shooting in a park of an employee of the city by an employee of the city, a murder by a sword of a lover in a domestic dispute, a suicide the result of a car chase, a few other shootings that led to death and a murder by a teenager in a park near the high school that also resulted in injury to other kids struck by bullets.

That particular murder shook the core of many concerned parents, was a factor in incumbent school board members being voted out of office, has shook the confidence of leadership of Holloman Air Force base and has kept the mayor, Susan Payne up at night, per her own words. What occured was on October 13 a slaying of a student at Oregon Park.

Jiyrese Collier was at the park with other youths that afternoon when an armed 17-year-old student looking for the kids who allegedly on October 11th had "jumped" his brother. He pulled up in a car. During the encounter, the teen cocked the gun inside his pocket, a police report said. From there, it's unclear what exactly happened, but witnesses told law enforcement that a youth tried to grab the gun from the teen. That's when the gun went off.

Mayor Susan Payne has made a few social media posts concerning the events of the teenage murder and shooting at Oregon Park. She has called on the school system to help resolve the issue a part of which is truancy and and kids convening in parks during school hours. In a Facebook video on October 18, 2023, Payne announced she's working with the acting city manager, city attorney and police chief on a plan to address the long-troubled park.

Payne said in the video, that for years, the park has had a reputation of attracting large crowds of students, even when they should be in school. It is the source of complaints from residents who live in the area and creates problems for officers responding to the area, Payne said.

The Alamogordo Public School system has one truancy office 6000 students yet has little int he way of tools to combat truancy. The mayor and most citizes were unaware until recently as are most citizens, per state law ,a truancy officer in New Mexico is limited significantly in their authority. They have few arrows in their tool chest to apply to resolve the issues of concern to the public of student truancy.

Since that video of October 18th, Mayor Payne has convened converations with various government leaders to include the city attorney, the chief of police, the school system, and the local District Attorneys office to seek advise on what options the city could put into place to put some teeth into the laws around trauncy and kids in parks during school hours.

Alamogordo Mayor Susan Payne posted a video on social media outlining a potenial plan of action to be considered at the December 5th City Commission meeting to address a few of the issues of concern with teenage crime and the parks...…

Mayor Payne says she will be placing 3 ordinance proposals for consideration onto the agenda...

Proposal 1 would establish penalties for truancy and hold both the child and the parents accountable in a trancy situation. This puts teeth to the law and allows the truancy officers and the police department for the city of Alamogordo to have the cover of law to help keep kids in school with enforceable consequencies.

Proposal 2 would establish curfews and times when those of school age may access the parks with and without supervision of an adult. The mayor, police and other government leaders have complained that Oregon Park near the Alamogordo High School is a known hangout location for truant kids but the was no consquency for their truancy nor hanging out at the park or other city parks during school hours. The proposal would restrict kids of school age who are should be enrolled in schools or home schooled from access to the parks during school hours unless supervised by an adult.

Proposal 3 strengthens laws around no tresspass access to the city aquaduct system such as the McKinley Channel, the channel running through Washington Park and other areas and arryos which is another known hangout for kids, motorcyclist and drug activities. These areas are supposed to be restricted areas and no tresspass, the proposed ordinance would strengthen enforcement of violators into those areas.

Mayor Payne and the City Commission of Alamogordo will be hosting dialog and a first reading of these proposed ordinances in December.

Commentary:, KALH Radio and welcomes the legwork that Mayor Susan Payne has put into motion in followup to her video. There are actions to her words.

We apprection the spirit of collaboration with the law enforcement community and DA's Office in an attempt, and a first step, toward helping to resolve the issues of teenage crime.

There will be critics and those that slam the attempt to help legislate the crime issue.

We welcome the dialog but also agree with Mayor Payne that the city has a responsibility to tighten the laws in order to aid law enforcement and the school system.

Accountability for children, their behavious and there whereabouts begins with parental responsibilty and accountability.

But the city also has a responsibility to have ordinances on the books and laws with teeth in them to aid law enforcement and to help protect the safety of the community at large. There may be debate over the proposals, and there may be tweaking as to the verbiage, level of fines or consequences; but we are thrilled to see a community leader, at least place on the agenda, tangible proposals as a tools for public safety. This is a very good first step. Stay tuned...

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