Oct 18

Roswell Transit

Posted on October 18, 2021 at 4:11 PM by Public Affairs

Every day, Roswell Transit is on the go, connecting people to places by providing safe, affordable and convenient public transportation for citizens needing to get to medical facilities, shopping centers, recreation sites or a wide variety of other destinations in Roswell. 

The transit-service vehicles make their way up and down Main Street seven days a week while “side routes” reaching other streets are serviced Monday through Friday when passengers call in to schedule a ride. In addition, Roswell Transit also provides door-to-door paratransit service for qualified individuals who are unable, because of physical handicap or other reasons, to use the regular services.

Roswell Transit continues to meet the needs of its riders even as it also seeks to meet the challenges of maintaining a sufficient number of vehicle operators, the drivers who get people where they want to go. Transit drivers must have a commercial driver’s license with a specific endorsement allowing them to drive large vehicles that carry passengers. They must also have knowledge of city streets and transit routes, traffic regulations, signs and signals, and safety rules and regulations. The training regimen all drivers must complete is designed to ensure they are ready to connect people to places in the safest manner possible.

Roswell Transit driver Patricia Hernes

Roswell Transit driver Patricia Hernes is one of the bus drivers who get people where they want to go in the city.

Those people behind the steering wheel of each Roswell Transit vehicle are literally what drives this city service. 

“As with any successful, customer service-oriented organization, Roswell Transit’s most important employees are those who work on the front line,” says Roswell Transit representative Scott Furciniti. “Transporting passengers to their destinations safely and with courtesy are the hallmark of this department’s vehicle operators.”

Meanwhile, the operation supervisors make sure the vehicle operators follow proper protocols and stick to schedules, and keep an eye on any maintenance issues that may arise. 

Roswell Transit also has an administrative staff that consists of a director, a transit manager, and an administrative assistant. The director charts the course for Roswell Transit to provide the best possible service for its passengers while working within the city’s guidelines. The transit manager oversees the department’s personnel, ensuring all vehicle operators receive proper training and maintain a high level of customer service. The administrative assistant, in addition to selling bus passes, tokens and paratransit (a service for passengers with special transportation needs and limitations) tickets, serves as Roswell Transit’s budgetary liaison to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

In addition to serving the public every day with local transportation, Roswell Transit can also be called on in times of emergency to provide evacuations from potentially dangerous situations.  Roswell Transit has also been used for the transportation of city officials and guests to tour areas of interest and view projects in progress throughout Roswell.

Although Greyhound Bus Lines still has buses stop in front of Roswell Transit’s terminal at 515 N. Main St. for boarding and deboarding of passengers, Roswell Transit is not affiliated with Greyhound.  For a short period, Greyhound contracted with the City of Roswell to have Roswell Transit staff sell Greyhound passenger tickets, check baggage, and handle shipping and receiving of packages for Greyhound. However, the pandemic impacted Greyhound’s business, leading to the termination of that contract. Still, though, Roswell Transit regularly receives and redirects inquiries from the public – both by phone and at the terminal – regarding the purchase of Greyhound tickets.

The pandemic that led to the end of the Greyhound contract also resulted in some limitations on Roswell Transit’s level of service, reducing the variety of routes the buses run. It also triggered a reduction in the number of riders using the bus service, although it remains in demand with an average of almost 4,000 passengers climbing aboard the buses each month. Meanwhile, future operation plans are being developed as Roswell Transit aims to strengthen how it serves its riders. 

Rowell Transit bus

Jul 29

Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center

Posted on July 29, 2021 at 9:43 AM by Public Affairs

If you need help in an emergency in Roswell or anywhere else in Chaves County, chances are you will be talking to one of the dispatchers at the Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center. The telecommunicators of PVRCC answer all 911 calls made in Chaves County and dispatch emergency fire, police and medical services for the City of Roswell, Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, and all police, fire and EMS agencies within the county. In all, PVRCC does the dispatching for 20 agencies consisting of 12 fire departments, five law enforcement agencies and three EMS services.

The center operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While on duty, dispatchers and supervisors are responsible for the intake of all 911 calls, as well as administrative calls for the departments they serve. They also serve as the radio operators for all emergency-service responders, providing police, fire and medical personnel with pertinent information concerning calls for service and are responsible for the safety of the responders relative to scene information, as well as ensuring law enforcement officers are provided with updates about any potential threats associated with a scene or individuals with whom they come in contact. 

“Having the responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of our community and our responders is a tremendous strain,” says PVRCC Director Teri Best. “In addition to the technical skills needed in being a 911 operator and dispatcher, a certain strength of character and resilience is necessary. Most of the telephone calls we handle are people under duress. They are often scared, sometimes angry, and can be verbally abusive. 

“We also work under the knowledge that with every call we dispatch, we are sending our responders into potential danger. 

“It takes a special kind of person to be able to work under that type of stress. We are selective in those that join our team.”

Dispatcher  Darla Shannon multiple screens (7-27-21)

Dispatcher Darla Shannon checks information on multiple screens as she works a shift at Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center.

The dispatch center’s 21-person staff has 13 emergency dispatchers, four shift supervisors and four administrators. Best calls the front-line dispatchers, who deal directly with the citizens calling in an emergency, the “heart” of the facility. They work under the management of the shift supervisors, who are responsible for the smooth operation of the center during their shifts. Each supervisor is a liaison with the agencies for which the center is dispatching, and each supervisor also handles any issues that may arise during a shift. 

The administrative staff consists of a Training Coordinator, Quality Coordinator, Operations Coordinator, and Director. 

The Training Coordinator is responsible for developing, implementing and updating all in-house training for the entire staff. The Training Coordinator also ensures all certified personnel obtain the continuing education needed to retain their certifications and deliver service in line with the latest industry standards. 

The Quality Coordinator is responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the quality-assurance and quality-improvement program for the center’s performance. This includes call review, documentation, and support to the Training Coordinator and supervisors to enable them to constantly improve the performance of the teams. The Quality Coordinator also has oversight of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) operations used at the dispatch center, is the primary source of records, and is the system administrator for the Emergency 911 Call System.

The Operations Coordinator is responsible for the equipment, systems and services of the center, a job that includes coordinating maintenance and repairs, purchasing, and personnel and staffing. The Operations Coordinator is the primary contact at dispatch for other agencies and coordinates the development and implementation of dispatch’s policies and procedures based on the needs of each agency.

The Director is the department head and administrator for the dispatch center. The primary role of the director is to support PVRCC team members in their roles and responsibilities. The Director oversees the budget; secures funding for equipment, services and products; creates and distributes reports; and coordinates communication with city and county administrators and officials. 

Shift Supervisor Raelynn Villarreal (7-27-21)

Shift Supervisor Raelynn Villarreal enters information at Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center.

The dispatchers and other staff members of Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center are members of the public safety family,” says Director Best. “We interact with agency administration, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and deputies all day every day. We are the first first-responders of the City of Roswell and Chaves County. In addition to that, we are responsible for the safety of our field responders. This creates a strong bond with our community and the responders we serve.” 

The number of 911 calls handled by PVRCC dispatchers in 2020 totaled 49,025. That’s slightly more than 134 each day. 

Many people assume a dispatcher knows the specific location from which a 911 call is being made. However, with most of these calls made from cellphones today, narrowing down the location of a caller is limited, usually only getting the location to a general area based on the cellphone signal. So, says Best, “The most important thing we need to know when you call 911 is where you are. Always give your location to the operator as clearly as you can.”

Best adds PVRCC has the benefit of the fact that “a good number of our communicators were raised in this area. Having historical knowledge of how the area has grown and changed over the years is a tremendous asset in the work that we do.” 

The City of Roswell is the fiscal agent for PVRCC. All employees are city employees. Under a joint powers agreement, Chaves County shares the operating expenses of the consolidated dispatch center with the city. The center is housed in the Chaves County Administration Building in south Roswell. 

The dispatch center continues to make improvements to better serve the community. An updated emergency 911 computer system was recently installed after the center’s electrical system was enhanced. The center is presently in the process of changing the floor design and replacing outdated furniture. The center will soon begin implementing structured call taking, which allows for a consistent method of information gathering. It assists dispatchers with asking the right questions in the right order for the situation at hand, even when under duress. It helps the dispatcher provide responders with accurate and concise information concerning call nature and situation with emphasis on safety. The structured process also gives the dispatchers instant access to instructions such as CPR, childbirth, sinking vehicle and many others so they can provide instant response assistance to callers and bystanders in life-threatening situations. 

“The structured call-taking protocols chosen by Pecos Valley are backed by scientific research and clinical review, meeting or exceeding industry standards to ensure we provide our community with the most up-to-date and highest level of care possible,” says Best. “We continue to look for technology that will assist in the practical side of the job so that our focus can be on the more important relational side. We do all that we can to support one another emotionally to help keep us strong.” 

Mar 31

K9 Unit - Roswell Police Department

Posted on March 31, 2021 at 12:25 PM by Public Affairs

Wood and Auda
K9 Officer Ashley Wood and K9 Auda

With illicit drug activity linked to so many violent offenses and property crimes, the battle to take illegal drugs and those who deal in them off the streets is a high priority for the Roswell Police Department. Playing a big role in that effort is the department’s K9 Unit that was re-established in May 2020.

The four drug-detecting dogs and their handlers have made a significant impact in taking drugs off Roswell’s streets, which helps reduce overall crime and makes the community a safer place for its residents and visitors.

“The major problem in this town in the drug use,” says K9 Officer Ashley Wood. “Drug use leads to burglaries, thefts and violent crimes against people. If we are able to clean the streets up, I believe is will help with the crime rate.”

Wood spends her shifts working with her K9 partner Auda, a female German Shepherd. Joining Wood and Auda in the K9 Unit are K9 Officer Skye Wentland and K9 Kazan (a male German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix), K9 Officer Cody Schwartz and K9 Tesla (a female Belgian Malinois) and K9 Sgt. Jeff Prince and K9 Tauron (a male Belgian Malinois). Lt. Chris Bradley oversees the unit as K9 coordinator. Each of these personnel were already members of RPD before they chose to become part of the K9 Unit.

Wentland and Kazan
K9 Officer Skye Wentland and K9 Kazan

The K9s use their special skills when requested by any patrol officers or narcotics agents. A traffic stop may lead to an officer having suspicions about drugs possibly being hidden in a vehicle so a K9 and handler may be called to the scene. Members of the K9 Unit may also work with narcotics agents as they execute a search warrant on a house or other property. The K9s’ highly-sensitive sense of smell can detect the odor of narcotics on a variety of objects, with some of the more common items dealt with being vehicles, buildings, packages and luggage. The K9s and their handlers work regular patrol shifts, carrying out the usual duties of a police officer, but are also on an on-call schedule that makes the specialized unit available 24/7. 

Dogs such as those in RPD’s K9 Unit are imported from Europe, where they receive initial training before coming to the United States. RPD acquired its dogs from a facility in Texas, where the handlers go to get paired with their K9 partner and train together before beginning their duty in Roswell.

Schwartz and Tesla
K9 Officer Cody Schwartz and K9 Tesla

Before meeting a handler, the dogs are trained for a year to develop obedience to a handler, narcotics detection, and tracking, which enables them to assist in finding missing people or criminal suspects. The handler then arrives at the training facility, goes through the first couple days of training with a few dogs to determine a good match with the right K9, and then trains with the selected K9 for three weeks. Each dog is chosen based on the handler’s preference and the bond they establish.

A handler must manage the daily responsibilities of being a patrol officer and making sure his or her dog is properly cared for, while also meeting all the required training hours per month. A police dog becomes not only a K9 officer’s trusted partner in law enforcement, but also part of the family.

K9 Officer Wood says Auda “likes to lay on the couch,” but they also “often go to the park so she can be a dog. Everyone needs a break from work, including the dog. Our bond has gotten much stronger in the past year and we build on that every day.”

That positive relationship impact of the department’s four-legged members can reach to other RPD officers, as well.

The dogs are also a great companion for other officers,” Wood says. “If (certain officers) are having a bad day at work, a little bit of puppy love can help cheer them up.”

Prince and Tauron
K9 Sgt. Jeff Prince and K9 Tauron

From approximately the late 1990s to the late 2000s, RPD had K9s at various times, including two narcotics-detection dogs that were eventually retired. Two other dogs were used primarily for tracking and detaining fleeing suspects. Those dogs were also retired following their service in the department.

The re-establishment of the K9 Unit was made possible thanks to the generous financial support of the Roswell community. That support is the funding foundation for the K9 program. In early 2020, organizations and individuals contributed the start-up costs to purchase the first two dogs, get the handlers trained with their dogs and make modifications to the handlers’ police vehicles to accommodate the K9s. Since then, ongoing support has enabled the unit to add two more dogs and handlers and help provide the dogs’ food and veterinarian care.

Visit the RPD K9 Unit webpage