Hatch residents call for village officials to step down

Residents upset after police chief firing

HATCH, N.M. - The firing of the Hatch police chief has residents calling for village officials to step down.

Residents told ABC-7 they're tired of the way the village is being run.

On Wednesday night, residents gathered in Hatch to talk about their concerns.

Last Wednesday, the Village of Hatch trustees voted to fire Police Chief Mike Vega. Vega was the second police chief fired in the last year and a half.

Residents said they want answers.

"They fired our beloved Police Chief Mike Vega. That just started the ball rolling. We're really upset about that. He was good for our community and just a beloved police officer. They're not saying why they fired him," said Victoria Franzoy, a resident of the Hatch area.

Vega was chief for less than a year.

Village Clerk Jim Schoonover would not explain why Vega was fired. He would only say, "It's a personnel issue."

Residents aren't happy with the way the village is being run and are especially upset with Schoonover.

"We're not going to put up with it. He's making a hostile environment for city employees. The people of hatch are tired of it. We want answers and we're not going to stop until we get them," Franzoy said.

Residents are getting signatures on a petition asked Schoonover and the board of trustees to step down.

Hatch trustee Noel McConnell told ABC-7 he will continue doing what he thinks is best for Hatch as long as he is in office.

Mayor Andy Nuñez said he wasn't surprised to see another police chief get fired.

"They tell me the normal life of a police chief is three years," Nuñez said. "It's a controversial thing. A lot of people don't understand when you're the boss, you can't have all the people underneath you as your drinking buddies and all of that. What I want to see is one that can get in there and control the troops and tells them you do this and they do it."

Nuñez agrees there are some real concerns in the Village of Hatch.

"I don't like the way a lot of the things are being done because since I came here as the mayor I've tried to get some things done and they're not getting done," Nuñez said.

Nuñez told ABC-7 the residents' petition doesn't carry any weight legally. He said the only way to remove Schoonover is for he and two trustees to vote him out of office.

Nuñez also said the trustees can only be removed when election time comes around again.

The Hatch trustees will holding their monthly meeting next Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Nuñez said he expects a big turnout so he will be moving the meeting to the community center.

Stay with ABC-7 for continuing coverage on this story.

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