All posts by Jackie Kent

SFPS puts teacher accused of washing students’ hair on leave

SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – Police are getting involved after a first grade teacher reportedly washed her students’ hair in class because she was sensitive to the smell of their shampoo. According to the Santa Fe Police report, Maria Bernadez from Nina Otero Community School would walk up to her students and smell their hair. If she considered their hair too frangrant, she’d “take the children to the sink in the classroom and wash their hair with an odorless shampoo.” The children told her the water was cold and one student “got scared and ran to the other side of the classroom.” Bernadez didn’t stop there. She reportedly wet paper towels and rubbed the scared child’s head to get the smell out. She was put on paid leave this week. “From what we can tell, there were five students that were involved in the incident,” SFPS Superintendent Veronica Garcia said, citing the police report. “This type of behavior is not condoned or tolerated. We do not believe in having inappropriate physical contact with students.” The very thought of her actions isn’t sitting well with parents. “I just think that’s totally inappropriate,” parent Geno Riley said. “If the teacher has an allergy, she should probably address that with her physician and not worry about what type of shampoo the kids are using at home.” “She should’ve posted something at the beginning of the year letting parents and students know,” said Cherryl Sena of Santa Fe. “It probably violates a lot of children’s rights so it’s really a significant problem,” added Michael Wofford, a parent. The superintendent said Bernadez is just a few months into her first year in the district. She would not say if her job is in danger. Teachers can let the district know if they have any allergies or sensitivities and the district will accommodate them. No one is saying if Bernadez let them know about her problems with fragrances. ———— Send a Breaking News Tip Report an error or typo Learn about the KRQE apps
Filed under: Home, New Mexico, News, SmartTV, Strange, Top Stories, Top Video

Belen chase suspect racks up felony convictions, not prison time

VALENCIA COUNTY, NM (KRQE) – The criminal who New Mexico State Police said tried to run over an officer in a stolen car before leading him on a chase has tried to outrun police at least two other times. Yet, when a judge had the chance to put him away last year for similar crimes, she let him walk. NMSP Chief Pete Kassetas said enough is enough. “What I fear is this individual is going to hurt or kill somebody and we almost had that happen yesterday,” Kassetas said. NMSP said Mykl Chavez, 28, tried to run over an approaching officer in a stolen car south of Belen on Monday. The officer fired a shot at Chavez and missed. A chase followed that ended with a crash. It’s his fourth arrest for fleeing from police and his latest in a long history of arrests. “More than 10 times that I counted and it seems almost every time it’s dismissal after dismissal after dismissal,” Kassetas said. “At some point, criminals say, ‘Hey, there’s really no repercussions for getting caught.’ Until this state decides to get tougher and fix that, it’s a repetitive cycle that’s just not going to end.” He adds dangerous repeat offenders like Chavez have no business being on the street, but releases happen all the time. “We have a broken criminal justice system here in New Mexico,” he said. In fact, Chavez could have been behind bars at the time of Monday’s incident. In October 2016, Chavez faced three-and-a-half years in prison for trying to sell a stolen car and fleeing recklessly in Valencia County. Prosecutors also pointed out that Chavez had four prior felony convictions —  two for fleeing — the others for child abuse and for having a stolen car. However, prosecutors struck a plea deal and Judge Cindy Mercer let him go on probation, putting him back on the street. ———— Send a Breaking News Tip Report an error or typo Learn about the KRQE apps
Filed under: Crime, Home, New Mexico, News, SmartTV, Top Stories, Top Video

80-year-old pilot honored, windy weather grounds balloons

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Balloon pilot Roger Hoppe, 80, has seen Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta transform over the years into the massive event it is today. “I’ve been out here from day one,” he said. But on the last day of the Balloon Fiesta Sunday, he didn’t get to fly what would’ve been his last fiesta flight before retirement. Windy weather kept all balloons grounded. “Winds were blowing about 21 miles an hour when the final call was made,” Rainbow Riders Hot Air Balloon Co. President Scott Appelman said. During the static display, crews struggled to keep balloons steady. There were plenty of sad faces, and some vendors closed shop early as people headed toward the exits. “I drove all the way from Colorado so I just want to see the balloons,” stated Ronnie Martinez of Pueblo. “Here we are!” exclaimed Paityn Thomas of Lubbock. “Our first balloon festival and no balloons.” It was a disappointing last day for some, but there was still plenty to celebrate; number 46 was arguably one of the best Balloon Fiestas, weather-wise. “We’ve flown eight out of nine days,” pilot Mike Voorhees said. As always, it was a chance for thousands to connect and enjoy the sights. “I enjoy the people and the culture,” said Sandra Vanwye of Chile, who Hoppe is training to become a balloon pilot. Hoppe was honored Sunday as Balloon Fiesta Ambassador of the Day for his influence on other pilots and decades of service in the community, both on the ground and in the skies.
Filed under: Albuquerque - Metro, Home, News, Top Stories Tagged: Balloon Fiesta

Councilor proposes city paid security guards to deter crime

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Albuquerque has an officer shortage but no shortage on crime, so a city councilor has an idea to help with both problems: city paid security guards at popular spots around town. With so few police officers trying to patrol such a big city, many businesses are forced to pay for their own security. Owner of the Bricklight District near Central Avenue and Harvard, Jay Rembe, said crime in the district over the past two years has gotten out of control. “From cars being broken into to homeless and to mental health issues,” Rembe said. “We need to get our streets back. We need to make sure that anyone who’s doing what they’re not supposed to be knows that we’re serious and they’re not welcome here and hopefully we can put them in jail or put them where they need to be so we have a great, wonderful city.” He has been working with District 6 City Councilor Pat Davis, who’s spearheading the Security Assistance Funding Zone ordinance. The idea is for the city to help foot the bill. “If enough businesses in an area want to band together, come up with a crime plan with APD that prevents crime before it happens, the city’s willing to invest and split the cost,” Davis added. That means the city would pay half the bill – up to $100,000 per area – for cameras and security guards in commercial zones like the Bricklight District, Nob Hill and Old Town, among others. The idea is to save the city money in the long-term to avoid paying officers overtime. “Police seem to be overwhelmed,” Rembe said. “They’re trying to do their best. It’s just not good enough.” Statistics from the city’s month-long trial-run in the Bricklight District in September show crime went down. “We had a security camera, a security trailer with extra cameras and bicycle patrols and they made a series of arrests,” Davis said. That included four felony arrests and 22 additional citations for other incidents. However, when police leave the crime comes back, so people who frequent Central Avenue were quick to back this idea. “I would feel safer if there was a security guard,” said Emily Goodwin of Albuquerque. Rembe doesn’t think security guards will solve all of Albuquerque’s crime problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. In an effort to make communities safer, city council has already added new bike patrol officers to Nob Hill. “We’re investing in more police officers, but at the end of the day, it can’t just be the police that are working on this,” Davis said.
Filed under: Albuquerque - Metro, Crime, Home, News, SmartTV, Top Stories, Top Video

Husband, passengers of woman who died in crash file lawsuit

SANTA FE COUNTY, NM (KRQE) – The family and passengers of a woman killed by an 18-year-old accused of speeding drunk down I-25 are now suing the university student. The lawsuit filed in Santa Fe County Judicial District Court claims the victim’s husband has ongoing emotional distress and her two passengers are still dealing with the permanent injuries from the crash on February 24. Luke Griffin, who was 18 at the time of the crash, is accused of driving “while under the influence of intoxicating liquors” at more than 100 miles an hour, leading to a deadly wreck along I-25 near the San Felipe Pueblo exit. Corrina Vaden, a 49-year-old competitive athlete from Colorado, was killed at the scene. “One vital young woman [was] killed basically in the prime of her life,” Stephen Justino, the attorney representing Vaden’s husband, said. Her two passengers were seriously injured. The lawsuit alleges negligence against Griffin for speeding in his Audi, being careless and inattentive; and to the so-called “John Does,” who supplied Griffin the alcohol that night. “We have not at this point discovered the source of the alcohol,” Justino said. The lawsuit states a bottle was found at the time of the crash, but it’s unknown where or when Griffin acquired it. Justino stated he doesn’t know much about Griffin. He’s asking for his client to be compensated for past and future damages. Griffin, a Santa Fe native, is still a University of New Mexico student and he’s awaiting trial for vehicular homicide and aggravated DWI. If found guilty, he could get more than 15 years in prison. Griffin posted a $50,000 bond to get out of jail after the crash. Since then, he’s tested positive for cocaine and is now on house arrest with his parents.
Filed under: Home, New Mexico, News, SmartTV, Top Stories, Top Video

Former Hobbs officers sue HPD for racial discrimination

HOBBS, NM (KRQE) – Three former Hobbs Police officers claiming their bosses encouraged them to target minorities on the job are taking their racial discrimination case to federal court. According to the lawsuit filed on Oct. 5, two African American officers Brandon Ellis and Vasshawn Robinson and a Caucasian officer Jeremy Artis, are expressing concerns for their safety and constitutional rights of people of color living in Hobbs. “These officers were told they had to make a certain number of arrests a month and that they should go to the east side to do so,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Shannon Kennedy said. “And the east of Hobbs is predominantly an African American community and people of color.” The lawsuit states “officers were directed to make their quota by stopping citizens of color,” and if Ellis didn’t get more stops, he would be written up and could later be placed on a Performance Improvement Program or terminated. In another incident outlined in the lawsuit, Ellis reported a sergeant failing to stop an officer from frequently using the “N” word. Then there was a time Ellis was written up because his pocket recorder was not recording at a use-of-force call, though the non-African American officer with him was not written up for not recording the incident, the lawsuit states. Further allegations claim the discriminatory behavior began in the officers’ training days. The suit says Vasshawn was the only trainee of color and was not allowed to sit at the lunch table. Instead, he had to “stand in a corner.” The alleged discrimination didn’t end when they left HPD. “They also have been blackballed within the law enforcement community,” Kennedy said. They did find jobs within the Lea County Sheriff’s Department making $6 an hour less, but it took them a while. According to the lawsuit, Artis applied to Sandoval County and Sante Fe County Sheriff’s Offices, but lost communication with the hiring powers after speaking with HPD officials. In addition to damages, they’re wanting to send a message. “To represent voices, to make change in places like Hobbs,” Kennedy said. HPD has not been served the lawsuit so it did not offer a statement Monday. Two of the officers reached out to the Hobbs chapter of the NAACP for help while still working for the department. Kennedy said the NAACP contacted Hobbs Police and former city manager J.J. Murphy, but said nothing changed.
Filed under: Albuquerque - Metro, Home, News, SmartTV, Top Stories, Top Video