Lea County sheriff's deputies sworn in as New Mexico mounted patrol, resume duties

LEA COUNTY, New Mexico - Lea County sheriff's deputies have resumed functioning as a law enforcement entity after days of sitting idle.

On Sunday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office met with New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas and District Attorney Dianna Luce to swear in the members of the officers as New Mexico mounted patrol officers. This comes after the sudden loss of Sheriff Stephen Ackerman.

As sworn commissioned personnel under Ackerman, the Lea County deputies could enforce the laws and civil service under his authority. However, there was a concern whether the deputies still had the authority after Ackerman's death until a new sheriff is sworn into office and can swear them in.

As New Mexico mounted patrol officers, the Lea County deputies will have full police powers and the Lea County Sheriff's Office will be able to resume functioning as a law enforcement entity.

"I'm willing to swear in the commissioned Lea County deputies as New Mexico mounted patrol officers under my authority until the Lea County Commission appoints a new Sheriff," Kassetas said.

Kassetas, Luce and Undersheriff Tom Dunformdcollectively arrived at the solution to the issue involving the commissioning of the Sheriff's Office personnel. 

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