Saturday, April 14, 2018

Small-town government run amok (Part VI): Lake Arthur, New Mexico makes billionaire Robert Mercer a law enforcement officer

Bloomberg news reported this week on quite a little scandal out of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, population 436, on the state line abutting far west Texas.  It seems the tiny police department of tiny Lake Arthur has been been making reserve law enforcement officers of folks like Robert Mercer, the conservative billionaire, so that these folks are authorized to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the United States.

Zachary Mider's story for Bloomberg begins with a firmly tongue-in-cheek description of the place and its law enforcement needs, along with the terms of Mercer's engagement there as a reserve officer:
If Mercer’s trips to Lake Arthur resembled my recent visit, he might’ve climbed into the passenger seat of [Police Chief] Norwood’s police truck, whose black-and-white paint job is fading in the wind-whipped sand. He and Norwood might’ve rolled past the house where someone reported spotting a stolen car—a false alarm, it turns out. While monitoring radio chatter, the plutocrat and the chief might have jawed about the latest news in a town so small it has no stores: the recent pursuit of a motorist across half the county; the record of the high school’s six-man football team; reports of stolen pecans. Pulling up a chair at an Italian restaurant in nearby Hagerman, the chief might’ve urged Mercer to try the lasagna. 
For most of the past six years, as Mercer became one of the country’s political kingmakers, he was also periodically policing Lake Arthur, according to the department. If he followed Norwood’s protocols—and Norwood insists no volunteers get special treatment—he would’ve patrolled at least six days a year. He would’ve paid for travel and room and board, and supplied his own body armor and weapon.
After the Bloomberg story was featured on WBUR on Mondaythe program--which apparently had 150 reserve officers at its peak--was abruptly ended on Tuesday.  (Read more here, too) The mayor of Lake Arthur put Chief Norwood on administrative leave, and his credentials were recalled.

Don't miss Mider's full report on the Lake Arthur program, with lots of details on Mercer's politics, too.  Turns out Mercer is quite the gun enthusiast, and getting this concealed carry opportunity through the back door circumvented his inability to get a concealed carry permit on Long Island, where he lives.  What Mercer is best known for, of course, is bankrolling Breitbart and being a king-maker vis a vis Donald Trump.   

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