Doing their fair share

Police Explorer LaToya Wright reports to Clovis police officer Lizzie Larsen on the safe return of a lost young girl to her parents during the Curry County Fair on Monday night. Photo by Darrell Todd Maurina.

By Gary Mitchell

The call came Monday night to the Police Explorers/Clovis Police Department Tag-A-Tot booth at the Curry County Fairgrounds that a young girl was lost.
Police Explorers LaToya Wright, 17, and Thomas Glotzbach, 18, joined Clovis police officers Chrissy Jacklin and Lizzie Larsen in the search.
“The parents thought she was lost, but she found her mom,” Glotzbach said. “Everything turned out OK.”
“Parents and kids use this booth as a gathering place,” said Clovis police school resource officer Dale Rice. “If a kid gets lost, they and their parents can come back here to find them. The Police Explorers will be here every night during the fair doing Tag-A-Tot.”
LaToya Wright, who serves as vice-president for the Explorers unit, which is for youth and adults from 14 to age 21, said 40 youngsters have signed up for the Tag-A-Tot program just Monday alone.
“Kids come to this booth, and we give them bracelets, which has their name and their parents’ names on it,” said Marlon Wright, 14, who calls himself the rookie of the Explorer unit.
“Parents think it’s a good idea,” Rice said. “We encourage parents to keep an eye on their children, to always know where their kids are. And we tell the kids if they get lost, come back here. It’s our gathering point.”
Other law enforcement officers also roam the fairgrounds to make the fair safe for everyone.
Clovis police Sgt. Chris Kinley said he and another officer would be doing gang enforcement during the fair this week.
“We provide security every year,” he said. “Last year, the most dangerous thing was that we took a .38 off a kid, who said he carried it for fear of a gang. I’ve worked it the past three or four years, and there really hasn’t been any violence at all. The gun was the only incident of any magnitude. Hopefully, if we just keep a presence here, nothing will happen.”
Kinley said four officers from the police department and three sheriff’s deputies as well as some New Mexico State Police officers would be at the fair each night.
Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Marney said there usually isn’t much trouble during the fair week.
“Basically, we’ll get a few folks who’ve had a little too much to drink, and we may have a few kid problems,” he said. “We’ll have deputies throughout the fairgrounds. We look for any potential trouble and deal with it. We try to deal with it early. We take a pro-active approach. If people get too loud or drunk, then we ask them to leave.
Today is Public Safety Day at the fair, and area law enforcement officials will have a public safety display set up in the Grass Show Arena.
“We’ll have units from Clovis, Texico and the State Police there,” said Rice, who serves as the coordinator for the display this year. “The Texico Fire Department, the Clovis Fire Department and the Cannon Air Force Base HAZMAT team will be there. We’ll also have a demonstration by the Clovis K-9 officers and the Cannon K-9 officers. The Clovis Special Response Team will have a part in the program as well. We encourage everyone to come see it.”