Pubdate: Thu, 18 Nov 1999
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 1999 Albuquerque Journal
Contact:  P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103
Author: Chris Roberts, The Associated Press 


People who sell or use illegal drugs can expect no quarter from the
man Gov. Gary Johnson has chosen to fill in after Department of Public
Safety Secretary Darren White resigned, saying he could not support
the governor's call to legalize drugs.

State Police Chief Frank Taylor, who received a call from the governor
Wednesday morning to take over as interim head of the DPS, said
legalizing drugs is a bad idea. "We still have the mission to do drug
interdiction, and we're very active in that," Taylor said Wednesday in
a phone interview. "We are enforcing everything and anything."

Taylor said the governor called him to "make sure I understand where
he's coming from. He wasn't seeking agreement from me."

Diane Kinderwater, the governor's spokeswoman, said Wednesday it is
premature to talk about a permanent replacement for White, who
resigned Tuesday.

Taylor said he feels no pressure to remain silent on his disagreement
with the governor's position or to relax enforcement, even for
marijuana, which the governor has characterized as a relatively benign

Johnson "is not asking acting Secretary Taylor to compromise his
beliefs," Kinderwater said. "The governor's whole intent is to save
(officers') lives, to get them off the front lines of this failing
drug war."

Taylor said the governor's stand has caused police to try to find more
effective means of slowing the drug trade.

"If you're losing the war on drugs, then maybe we have to regroup and
find different ways," he said. "It's definitely gotten law enforcement
to communicate with each other in a more positive way."

Taylor said State Police don't have a "bunker mentality" and he
expects the search for better approaches to result in more aggressive

He said he was surprised by White's resignation.

"The man had a lot of respect for the people in the Department of
Public Safety and their commitment" to their jobs, Taylor said. "It's
his decision and we respect it."

One group was happy to hear of White's resignation: the New Mexico
Police Association.

"From my standpoint, I'm glad he resigned," said Norman Rhoades, the
association's president. "I think it was a good thing to do and I
think it's a good thing for the department."

In September, the association's 500 members were asked to participate
in a mail-in survey, in which 243 members gave White a vote of no
confidence while 31 voted in his favor. The Public Safety secretary
oversees about 1,000 civilian employees and commissioned officers.

Association officials said they no longer trusted White, who they said
seemed more interested in politics than policing. White said he had
done what he believed was best for the department including securing
money for pay raises and new hires.

Rhoades, a State Police criminal agent working out of Las Cruces, said
he is enthusiastic about Taylor's appointment.

"I hope they put him in permanently," Rhoades said.

He said Taylor came up through the ranks and has decades of experience
as a police officer.

"You just can't trade anything for experience," Rhoades

Rhoades said he agrees with White's opinion against legalizing

"White did counter the governor's stance," Rhoades said. "I do respect
that, he stuck his neck out on it."

Rhoades said he isn't aware of any police officer who supports drug

"If the governor digs up somebody and puts them in that position (of
secretary) because they agree with him, then it's time for all of us
to be very scared," he said.

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