The Roswell City Council on May 11 approved the mayor’s appointment of Lance Bateman as Roswell’s new police chief. The vote at the regular City Council meeting was 8-0 in favor of hiring the Roswell native as the next chief to lead the police department.
Mayor Tim Jennings announced his selection of Bateman May 5, pending Council approval. The mayor chose Bateman for RPD’s top position from among three candidates who were interviewed by a committee made up of Jennings, city councilors Juan Oropesa and Juliana Halvorson, City Manager Chad Cole, Deputy City Manager Mike Mathews and City Attorney Hess Yntema. The three candidates who were interviewed were selected from among 21 people, including three members of RPD, who applied for the position.
Bateman steps into his new city position after spending the last 20½ years with the New Mexico State Police, serving in Clovis, Tucumcari and Roswell as he rose through the ranks of patrolman, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. He served nine years as captain of the NMSP District 3, based in Roswell and covering Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties, before he retired in December 2022.
Bateman holds an advanced law enforcement certification from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He has a bachelor’s degree in university studies from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
“I was born and raised in Roswell and to possibly become police chief here was an opportunity I could not pass up,” said Bateman. “My wife and I are raising a young daughter and I want my daughter growing up in a safe community. I believe in community policing and getting out and connecting with the community.
“My main objective starting out will be school safety. While captain with the State Police, I assigned all officers to schools where they would visit to interact with children and staff. This will be priority number one starting in the 2023-24 school year. This will include myself all the way down to the patrol level.”
Bateman is scheduled to begin his work as RPD chief June 1. His contract calls for him to be paid an annual salary of $145,467.
“Lance Bateman is a career law enforcement officer with the New Mexico State Police. His father was also a career officer with the New Mexico State Police and served with distinction in Roswell,” said Mayor Jennings.
“Lance’s last duty station has been in Roswell for the last nine years as the district commander of Southeastern New Mexico,” Jennings continued. “Commander Bateman instituted a program of having a State Police officer becoming friends with school children. That is a great idea. We are having threats and violence against children and schools that must be addressed so all children feel and grow up safe. They have to know that the police are there to help them be safe. The police are their friends.”
Bateman enters the RPD chief’s job following the early-April resignation of Chief Phil Smith, who left to become chief of the police department in Lakewood, Colo. RPD is currently being led by Interim Chief Joe Smith, who is also a captain in the department.
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