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NM police academy stays open with new COVID-19 measures

The academy is modifying testing and training schedules to meet social distancing requirements

Amanda Martinez
The Santa Fe New Mexican

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy will continue to operate while making changes to help protect recruits and instructors from transmitting or becoming ill from COVID-19.

It has implemented protocols recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will screen cadets when they return Sunday to the academy, according to a Thursday email by state Department of Public Safety spokesman Herman Lovato.

“In an effort to mitigate exposure to the virus, the academy is closed to the public and academy staff has been reduced, allowing non-critical staff to telework,” Lovato said.

The basic Law Enforcement Academy class, which includes six women and 19 men representing 25 law enforcement agencies, is still scheduled to graduate May 14. The New Mexico State Police class of 21 recruits, including six women and 15 men, is scheduled to graduate June 12.

Before recruits will be allowed back to the academy, they will go through an outside staging area where they will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, discuss any possible exposure to the virus and have their body temperatures taken.

“Anyone with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees [Fahrenheit] or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are directed to call the [Department of Health] COVID-19 hotline, and are not allowed entry until cleared,” according to Lovato’s email.

To maximize social distance, Lovato said, dorm room assignments have been modified.

Santa Fe police Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said the department also will modify its recruit testing and training schedule to accommodate restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet in groups and to maintain social distancing.

The department, which has more than 20 officer vacancies, will continue to reach out to those interested in becoming an officer by phone and email, Valdez said.