There’s a new sheriff in town (read: Bernalillo County). Democrat John Allen is the presumed winner of the race, receiving 117,656 votes as of press time. Challenger Paul Pacheco received 89,470 votes, while Kaelan Dryer garnered just 9,818 as the Libertarian candidate.
Manuel Gonzalez III, who led the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) since 2014, is handing over his sheriff’s badge after having reached his term limit. During Gonzalez’s tenure, BCSO has been at the forefront of multiple controversies, including his refusal to implement body-worn cameras for deputies until after the state legislature passed a law requiring them. Gonzalez has mostly avoided the spotlight since he was defeated by incumbent Tim Keller in the race for Albuquerque mayor.
Three candidates vied for the seat, including Republican Paul Pacheco, Democrat Paul D. Allen, and Libertarian Kaelan Dreyer, who is best known for the “dongcopter” that flew during a campaign event during Gonzalez’s failed mayoral campaign.
Allen came to the race a long-time law enforcement veteran, as was Pacheco. Allen worked for New Mexico State Police before spending 19 years at BCSO. According to his website, he retired in 2020 as a sergeant.
Now, Allen trains upcoming officers as an instructor at CNM, where he trains officers for departments across the state. Law Enforcement Academy records indicate that Allen was certified as an officer in the state in 1997, and resigned from NMSP in 2001. His stated time working in law enforcement on his website match state records, unlike Pacheco’s.
During the campaign, attack ads accused Allen of timesheet fraud, and BCSO Sheriff Manuel Gonzalez filed a misconduct report in June with the Law Enforcement Academy. The internal affairs investigation document attached to the complaint seemed to clear Allen of any wrongdoing, stating: “The investigation found no evidence of time card fraud or abuse.” Allen has no history of disciplinary action with the LEA.
Allen has a decidedly different set of objectives for BCSO moving forward, although he agrees with Pacheco that there must be more deputies. He also lists restoring trust in the sheriff’s office as one of his top priorities, which he plans to accomplish by embracing reform and transparency efforts, and supporting the Sheriff’s Office Advisory and Review Board (SOARB) as an avenue for the public to raise concerns with BCSO leadership.
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