After a hiatus of three years, the small village of Questa in northern New Mexico will have a police department again.
The Questa Police Department was finally set to reopen on April 1, led by new police chief Ronald Montez Jr. and a team of four officers after its previous officers quit abruptly.
“Without a law enforcement agency, traffic infractions and stuff like that were never really enforced,” Montez said in an interview with Taos News. He is a former officer of the New Mexico State Police.
The village has been without a police department since 2020, when then-police chief Nicolas Lamendola and all three officers of the village unexpectedly resigned, leaving the community without any law enforcement agency.
Lamendola had worked in the role of chief for five years prior to resigning.
To fill the gap, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office provided police services under a contract with the village, which is set to end next month. Some residents reported that the sheriff’s deputies were slow to respond during that time.
Since taking office, it has been a goal of Questa’s Mayor John Anthony Ortega to rebuild the police force.
Now, he can say he has fulfilled that promise.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Ortega said. “I think, at the end of the day, even though it took longer than I and many of the citizens would have wanted, we’re getting a better department.”
The village of Questa, with a population of just 1,700 residents, is a gateway to the Rio Grande del Norte Monument.
The new police department is expected to enforce traffic infractions and provide quicker responses to the residents’ calls.