Update: Sept. 14, 11:50 a.m.
David Trujillo has been appointed acting chief of Taos Police Department.
He replaces David Maggio, who has filled in as interim chief for more than five months and will now return to his rank as lieutenant.
The official position of police chief, however, has still not been filled – at least not quite.
During a regular meeting of the Taos Town Council Tuesday evening (Sept. 12), council members retired to an executive session that lasted less than five minutes, emerging without a formal decision on the next chief, pending some adjustments that will be sought for the position before it is officially filled.
Mayor Dan Barrone spoke to a small audience about what those changes will entail, but first opened with remarks about the current trajectory of the department.
He stated that gross receipts taxes have been raised for the first time in more than a decade, with “100 percent of those dollars” going toward raising compensation for all officers and starting salary for cadets and new recruits by $4 per hour. Barrone also made commitments to purchasing two new police vehicles each year, as well as creating new training and advancement opportunities for members of the department – all in the interest of retaining employees, which has been a historic problem, especially among chiefs.
More than once, Barrone spoke to the value of recruiting and hiring local men and women – people who “were born here, went to school here, grew up here and still have families here,” he said.
Those words segued into his final announcement: that he was nominating Trujillo to become acting chief – a decision, he said, that was unanimously approved by the review committee that has vetted candidates over the course of the hiring process. The appointment was unanimously approved among town councilors following Barrone’s nomination.
Trujillo is expected to officially take the job within 60 days, pending approval of a new town ordinance or human resources contract that will effectively remove the position from the political realm and allow future chiefs to go through a more traditional hiring process. Among other things, this would mean that a current department member, like Trujillo, who is a sergeant, would be allowed to fall back to his prior rank if he were not rehired as chief, rather than lose his membership within the department entirely.
Though the decisions Tuesday night fell just shy of an official end to the extended, five-month hiring process, the small group that had gathered to wait for the announcement broke into applause as Trujillo approached each council member, Barrone, Town Manager Rick Bellis and the town attorney for a handshake before addressing the audience, expressing his gratitude to town staff and his members of his family, who were present in the audience.
“It’s an honor, and I’m very humbled to be here in front of everybody,” Trujillo said. “We have a wonderful, wonderful police department. Our staff is amazing. I think they’re the best there is. From our civilian staff to our police staff, our officers are very talented and we really, really look forward to developing them to make them better officers to better serve this community ...”
Maggio was also present to support his longtime colleague. “I’ll gladly serve as David’s right-hand man,” he said.