This story is a staff report from The Paper.


Manuel Gonzales III, or Manny as he likes to be called, is a lifelong resident of Albuquerque. He has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement and was given an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps.

Gonzales attended Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, and received a bachelor of science in occupational education. He majored in management and minored in occupational education with a specialization in law enforcement in 2009. In addition, he attended Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute and received an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice in 1993. He has served over 24 years in the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. Gonzales bested 20 other applicants to earn the appointment to sheriff by the Bernalillo County Commission in 2009 when then-Sheriff Darren White resigned to become the city of Albuquerque’s public safety director under Mayor Richard Berry.

Gonzales ran for sheriff as a Democrat and lost in 2010 to Republican Dan Houston. He ran again, successfully, in 2014. He was re-elected in 2018 by a 10 point margin with a “tough on crime” stance.

As sheriff, Gonzales oversees a department of more than 400 employees and a $63 million budget. The agency has an air unit and cooperates in numerous state and federal task forces, in addition to providing primary law enforcement service to the unincorporated parts of the county. Under his leadership, BCSO was the first agency in Bernalillo County to implement Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a program allowing deputies to refer addicted offenders to treatment instead of arrest, for low-level crimes, and he has expanded the use of the county’s mobile crisis teams.

Gonzales was also appointed by former Attorney General Bill Barr to join the USDOJ’s committee on mental health and law enforcement response. USDOJ also awarded Gonzales’ office a $1.4 million grant to partner with federal agencies to identify and arrest serious offenders.

Though Gonzales is not without controversy, he prides himself on working with Democrats and Republicans to address crime–even if it ruffles a few feathers along the way.