Mar 31

K9 Unit - Roswell Police Department

Posted on March 31, 2021 at 12:25 PM by Public Affairs

Wood and Auda
K9 Officer Ashley Wood and K9 Auda

With illicit drug activity linked to so many violent offenses and property crimes, the battle to take illegal drugs and those who deal in them off the streets is a high priority for the Roswell Police Department. Playing a big role in that effort is the department’s K9 Unit that was re-established in May 2020.

The four drug-detecting dogs and their handlers have made a significant impact in taking drugs off Roswell’s streets, which helps reduce overall crime and makes the community a safer place for its residents and visitors.

“The major problem in this town in the drug use,” says K9 Officer Ashley Wood. “Drug use leads to burglaries, thefts and violent crimes against people. If we are able to clean the streets up, I believe is will help with the crime rate.”

Wood spends her shifts working with her K9 partner Auda, a female German Shepherd. Joining Wood and Auda in the K9 Unit are K9 Officer Skye Wentland and K9 Kazan (a male German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix), K9 Officer Cody Schwartz and K9 Tesla (a female Belgian Malinois) and K9 Sgt. Jeff Prince and K9 Tauron (a male Belgian Malinois). Lt. Chris Bradley oversees the unit as K9 coordinator. Each of these personnel were already members of RPD before they chose to become part of the K9 Unit.

Wentland and Kazan
K9 Officer Skye Wentland and K9 Kazan

The K9s use their special skills when requested by any patrol officers or narcotics agents. A traffic stop may lead to an officer having suspicions about drugs possibly being hidden in a vehicle so a K9 and handler may be called to the scene. Members of the K9 Unit may also work with narcotics agents as they execute a search warrant on a house or other property. The K9s’ highly-sensitive sense of smell can detect the odor of narcotics on a variety of objects, with some of the more common items dealt with being vehicles, buildings, packages and luggage. The K9s and their handlers work regular patrol shifts, carrying out the usual duties of a police officer, but are also on an on-call schedule that makes the specialized unit available 24/7. 

Dogs such as those in RPD’s K9 Unit are imported from Europe, where they receive initial training before coming to the United States. RPD acquired its dogs from a facility in Texas, where the handlers go to get paired with their K9 partner and train together before beginning their duty in Roswell.

Schwartz and Tesla
K9 Officer Cody Schwartz and K9 Tesla

Before meeting a handler, the dogs are trained for a year to develop obedience to a handler, narcotics detection, and tracking, which enables them to assist in finding missing people or criminal suspects. The handler then arrives at the training facility, goes through the first couple days of training with a few dogs to determine a good match with the right K9, and then trains with the selected K9 for three weeks. Each dog is chosen based on the handler’s preference and the bond they establish.

A handler must manage the daily responsibilities of being a patrol officer and making sure his or her dog is properly cared for, while also meeting all the required training hours per month. A police dog becomes not only a K9 officer’s trusted partner in law enforcement, but also part of the family.

K9 Officer Wood says Auda “likes to lay on the couch,” but they also “often go to the park so she can be a dog. Everyone needs a break from work, including the dog. Our bond has gotten much stronger in the past year and we build on that every day.”

That positive relationship impact of the department’s four-legged members can reach to other RPD officers, as well.

The dogs are also a great companion for other officers,” Wood says. “If (certain officers) are having a bad day at work, a little bit of puppy love can help cheer them up.”

Prince and Tauron
K9 Sgt. Jeff Prince and K9 Tauron

From approximately the late 1990s to the late 2000s, RPD had K9s at various times, including two narcotics-detection dogs that were eventually retired. Two other dogs were used primarily for tracking and detaining fleeing suspects. Those dogs were also retired following their service in the department.

The re-establishment of the K9 Unit was made possible thanks to the generous financial support of the Roswell community. That support is the funding foundation for the K9 program. In early 2020, organizations and individuals contributed the start-up costs to purchase the first two dogs, get the handlers trained with their dogs and make modifications to the handlers’ police vehicles to accommodate the K9s. Since then, ongoing support has enabled the unit to add two more dogs and handlers and help provide the dogs’ food and veterinarian care.

Visit the RPD K9 Unit webpage

Feb 25

Wastewater Lab

Posted on February 25, 2021 at 1:29 PM by Public Affairs

Testing and otherwise analyzing Roswell’s wastewater on a constant basis to make sure it is safe to be disposed of – and even used for farm irrigation – is the task of the Wastewater Laboratory at the City of Roswell’s Wastewater Treatment Plant on East College Boulevard at the city’s eastern edge.

The Wastewater Lab monitors the wastewater going through and leaving the treatment plant seven days a week. The three employees of the lab conduct tests to measure contaminants and organic material in the wastewater, as well as the pH level, making certain the amounts and levels of these things meet the standards set by the New Mexico Environment Department. The treatment plant and lab are also governed by regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

wastewater lab 1
Wastewater Laboratory Technician Sarah Torrez conducts a pH test.

Wastewater samples from various locations within the plant are collected and brought to the lab for analysis. The staff conducts various tests on the samples to check for contaminants and make sure pH levels are appropriate. The analyses also allow these experts on staff to monitor biochemical oxygen demand, which is a factor in the number of active microorganisms in wastewater. Among other tests are those checking the amount of total suspended solids and total dissolved solids. The lab also does some testing for drinking water. Monthly reports for that water and wastewater are submitted to the New Mexico Environment Department.

Most of the testing is conducted at the lab by two lab technician assistants, who also head out to other locations to perform field analysis at designated points along drinking water distribution systems, at the city’s well sites, at residences and at commercial water customers’ locations, such as restaurants. The third member of the lab staff is the lab technician, who does some of the testing while overseeing the overall operation of the facility, ensuring quality control, submitting required reports to the state, and billing outside entities – water districts and restaurants, for example, that must meet water-quality standards – that use the Roswell lab to test their samples. The lab draws that outside business because it is a state-certified microbiological laboratory and one of only a few in New Mexico that conducts water bacteriological tests for state and non-state entities.

Through the years, the lab has maintained and upgraded all of its equipment to comply with governmental regulation-agency standards. Operation of the lab itself is a requirement since the Wastewater Treatment Plant must adhere to self-monitoring standards set by the oversight agencies. That constant monitoring ensures the wastewater is safe to be discharged into the Hondo River, where it is further diluted as it travels downstream, or to be supplied to local farmers who use it to irrigate crops during the growing season. All the wastewater that is discharged from the treatment plant must meet federal standards requiring it to be safe enough to be “fishable and swimmable.”

wastewater lab 2

Wastewater Laboratory Technician Sarah Torrez examines a wastewater sample that will be used to check oxygen depletion. 

One of the main functions of the processes used to treat the wastewater is to break down and remove many organic solids from the water. People may not realize chemicals are not used to do this. The organic matter is removed by systems at the treatment plant that use gravity and naturally occurring microorganisms, which eat the organic solids. And the lab makes sure those things are doing their jobs adequately. From the time wastewater enters the treatment plant to when it is discharged, at least 98 percent of the solid contaminants have been removed.

In addition to ensuring the treatment plant is producing properly treated wastewater, the lab assists other city departments when needed. For example, when new water lines are being installed or lines are being repaired within the city’s drinking water transmission system, the lab is called on to use its resources and expertise to conduct bacterial tests to make sure the new or repaired lines are not a source of contaminates.

A video about the Wastewater Lab is also available. 

Jan 27

Office of Emergency Management

Posted on January 27, 2021 at 3:24 PM by Public Affairs

Planning for the unexpected or unknown, such as natural or manmade disasters or other emergencies, is a challenging task. If the community and its citizens do get plunged into an emergency situation, it is critically important to have a well-thought-out and organized plan. Effective emergency management protects communities by coordinating and integrating all activities needed to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies that can be natural disasters, acts of terrorism or public health emergencies such as a pandemic.

This is the task that faces Roswell/Chaves County Emergency Manager Karen Sanders each day as she operates the one-person Office of Emergency Management shared by five governmental jurisdictions: City of Roswell, Chaves County, Town of Dexter, Town of Hagerman and Town of Lake Arthur.

“One of my most important roles is to keep city and county government officials, as well as community partners, up to date,” Sanders explains. “During COVID, this has included daily conference calls with the State Emergency Operations Center, weekly meetings with community partners such as hospitals, public health (agencies), schools and government officials, and daily texts with COVID case information to many agencies throughout Chaves County. We are currently working with hospitals and public health officials on COVID vaccine planning and having a flexible plan in place as COVID vaccines become available.”

Karen Sanders (Jan 2021)

Roswell/Chaves County Emergency Manager Karen Sanders

Sanders, who has been emergency manager since November 2012, notes COVID response has been ongoing since the pandemic began impacting New Mexico around March 2020. Some of her typical COVID-related duties have included revising and updating plans, helping with test sites, placing resource requests and tracking costs.

Sanders’ job functions have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

“Normally, an incident happens, like a flood or tornado, and you spend a short amount of time in response, before moving into recovery and getting back to normal,” she explains. “COVID is unusual in that we have been in response mode for 10 months now. The majority of my time for the last 10 months has been spent dealing with and responding to COVID.”

Before COVID interrupted everyone’s life, a day in the Office of Emergency Management might include working on emergency plans, scheduling meetings and trainings, coordinating an exercise, or researching grant opportunities. Of course, all that is subject to change if an emergency takes place, during which Sanders’ role switches to one of support and coordination efforts.

Sanders is a Certified Emergency Manager in New Mexico, which is achieved by a certification process through the New Mexico Association of Emergency Management Professionals. She has been honored by the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which selected Sanders as 2019 Emergency Manager of the Year.

Sanders is responsible for overseeing all functions related to a disaster.

“Emergency management is an ongoing process to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from an incident,” she says, describing each step as follows:

Prevention focuses on things done before an incident to reduce the chance of an emergency happening or reduce the impact of unavoidable emergencies. Examples are conducting threat and vulnerability assessments, and establishing building codes.

Preparedness includes plans or preparations made to save lives and help response and rescue operations. Examples include creating evacuation plans or disaster plans and then practicing carrying out those plans through drills or exercises. Another example would be installing outdoor warning sirens and doing public education so citizens know what to do when they hear them.

Response involves activating the preparedness plans during a disaster or other emergency. Examples include opening a shelter or ordering resources such as equipment. During COVID, this has included requesting personal protective equipment and other equipment for healthcare agencies, public health entities, hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities and correctional facilities.

Recovery is getting back to normal after an incident. This usually takes place after an emergency and could include seeking financial assistance to help cover costs of an incident.

Sanders emphasizes “work is being done on a continuous basis to ensure the safety and security of citizens in Chaves County,” and she urges citizens to take action by doing the following:

Stay informed: Know what types of disasters can happen and how to get additional information. Citizens can sign up for CivicReady, the local mass-notification system found on the websites of the City of Roswell ( and Chaves County ( Citizens can also purchase a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio (around $20) to receive emergency weather alerts.  

Build a kit: Have an emergency kit consisting of enough food, water and other supplies to last 72 hours in the event of an emergency.

For more information about emergency preparedness, Sanders can be reached at (575) 624-6740. Information from the Roswell/Chaves County Office of Emergency Management can also be found on Facebook, as well as the City of Roswell website.