Matthew Vigil, a Río Arriba County Sheriff’s deputy and former State Police officer, has launched a campaign to replace outgoing Taos Sheriff Miguel Romero in 2014.
Vigil joins former magistrate judge Betty Martínez in the race for the county’s top law enforcement position.
In an interview Tuesday (Oct. 8), Vigil touted his 17 years of law enforcement experience in pledging to offer an outsider’s perspective at the sheriff’s office.
“I would like to bring in change and experience,” the Taos native said, noting his career patrolling Northern New Mexico as a state police officer as well as working undercover. Vigil was eventually promoted to the rank of lieutenant in the state police department’s internal affairs office. Vigil said he was then recruited by Río Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella to join his staff in Española.
Vigil’s departure from the state police followed his arrest on the charge of driving while intoxicated in July 2011. The case is scheduled for trial in Ratón on Dec. 2 though Eighth Judicial District Judge John Paternoster will hear a motion to suppress evidence due to what Vigil characterized as police entrapment Oct. 23.
“I have not only been on the prosecuting side but I have also been a defendant and a victim of crime,” the deputy said.
Vigil attributed the incident to poorly trained law enforcement officers and animosity between himself and the Ratón Police Department. He declined to elaborate on the charges due to the pending trial but conceded there were “other little incidents” from throughout his life he would address during his campaign.
Although he works in Río Arriba County, Vigil emphasized Taos is his home and his children are enrolled in local schools. “I just want to give back to the community where I was born and raised,” he said.
Vigil told The Taos News he would increase patrols and prioritize community policing in outlying areas of the county while developing a culture of accountability and responsibility among deputies. The department should have at least two investigators trained in forensics, he added.
Vigil said he would pursue state and federal funding sources currently untapped by the county. “There are a lot of resources out there,” Vigil said, adding that he would hire a grant writer to win funding for various initiatives.