ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The police chief of the small eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn resigned Wednesday, leaving the town with just one certified member on its police force — a drug-sniffing dog named Nikka.
According to records, the only qualified member of the Vaughn Police Department is Nikka, a drug-sniffing dog. Vaughn's other officer isn't certified and pleaded guilty to charges of assault and battery last year.
But Romero said not having an officer qualified to carry a gun didn't put Vaughn at risk. "England doesn't allow police officers to carry guns," he said. "Sometime the strongest weapon in law enforcement is communication."
Vaughn, a town of about 450 located 104 miles east of Albuquerque, is set deep in what U.S. Homeland Security Investigations officials say is an isolated region of the state popular with drug traffickers. Officials say the desolate roads in Guadalupe County make it hard for authorities to catch smugglers moving drugs from Mexico.
Guadalupe County Sheriff Michael Lucero said since news about the police chief's record became public his department has helped patrol Vaughn. But he said those efforts have put a slight strain on his already short-staffed department.
"I visit the town at least once a month," said Lucero. "The important thing is to keep a presence so residents know we're there to help if we're needed."
Romero said town officials are considering whether to hire another police chief or keep the department staffed with just one officer. He said it's unclear whether the town will keep the police dog.
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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.