By: Julia Deng
EDDY COUNTY - Three deputies have left the Eddy County Sheriff's Department during the past two months as a result of termination or resignation.
Sheriff Scott London said the three departures were all "isolated, completely separate situations" relating to off-duty conduct.
Former deputy Lisa Springer was terminated following a domestic violence arrest; former deputy Carolyn Smith-Newman resigned after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident involving a public defender's vehicle; and former deputy Jeffrey Clifton resigned a day after being arrested and charged with aggravated DWI.
Springer, Smith-Newman and Clifton could not be reached for comment.
Sheriff London said Clifton's resignation was "his own decision."
“We, of course, placed him on administrative leave and kind of had to wait for the [criminal justice] process to play out," he said.
"But [Clifton] resigned before any administrative sanctions could be leveled against him."
Clifton pleaded not guilty to DWI charges.
According to Carlsbad Police, he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.19, over twice the legal limit in New Mexico.
London said two of conduct issues involving the three former deputies involved alcohol: Clifton's DWI arrest and Springer's domestic violence arrest.
The department is now working to make sure their remaining deputies "know what types of services are available," should they need help with alcohol dependency, other types of substance abuse or emotional issues.
“We have, on an individual basis, talked with some of the deputies who have had issues, just to let them know what services are available," said London.
He "does not anticipate more of a soap opera" within the department and said their most pressing concern at the moment is filling vacancies.
Between recent terminations, resignations and upcoming retirements, London said the Eddy County Sheriff's Department will "take a huge hit [and] lose 10 percent of [their] staff" by the end of December, within a two and a half month period.
“One of our biggest issues that we're having right now is we're competing with the oil and gas industry," he told NewsWest 9.
"Staffing has always been a challenge. [Employers in the oil and gas industry] can pay tremendous salaries with pretty minimal qualifications. Finding employees in this region has been a challenge."
The Sheriff's Department is recruiting heavily in New Mexico and Texas police academies.
They are accepting applications from across the nation and will "consider anyone with the proper qualifications."