Resolution on hayride incident | Letter

The Christmas Eve Hayride has been of concern to many in our community. After a thorough review of the information available, interviews of several witnesses and parties involved in the event, and discussions with other law enforcement agency executives I have come to several conclusions. I have taken action to address these concerns and will take further action as necessary as a result of this review.

Deputy Menjivar was right to stop the pickup and trailer. The inherent safety concerns of having up to 30 people riding on the trailer, even at low speed, without taillights, signals or brakelights are obvious.

While there has been extensive criticism of Deputy Menjivar’s actions during the course of the stop, the behavior of others contributed to the actions of the deputies. There are lessons to be learned through this experience. Even though the stop looked ugly, it was a dynamic and stressful situation, for all involved. Ultimately it was a verbal confrontation.

To keep all this in perspective, let’s not lose sight of the facts that in the course of the 15 minute traffic stop, there was no use of force, no one was injured, no citations were issued and everyone went safely on their way. Regrettably, things were said that should not have been said.

Both deputies have been debriefed extensively to critique their actions throughout the stop, and examine the decision points throughout a rapidly evolving set of circumstances.

Moving forward:

Appropriate discipline has been applied for policy and rule violations that occurred in the course of this event. Disciplinary action is consistent with the county personnel rules and the collective bargaining agreement.

The body-worn cameras have been removed from service and will undergo a forensic examination and functionality check.

As resources allow, I will begin outfitting patrol cars with in-car video systems and implementing policies on their use, and the preservation and retention of audio and video files.

San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou