Las Vegas, N.M. – Clarence Romero is the new police chief at New Mexico Highlands University, bringing more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, including 20 years in management, to the university.
Romero is already a familiar face at Highlands. He joined the Police Department in 2012 as a patrol officer and served as interim police chief since January 2017 after Chief Donato Sena retired.
“What I like about working at Highlands is everyone is here for the common unifying purpose of being a community that strives for the good of society,” Romero said. “The students are here to learn, prosper and go out into the world to make it a better place.”
Romero said his job as police chief is to help students be safe so they can complete their education.
“I place a high value on good communication, and being highly visible and accessible to the campus community,” Romero said.
He said his top goal in his first year is to implement an automated records management system using software that incorporates all the data collected, from incident reports to radio dispatch logs.
“Moving from manual records to a computerized system will be much more efficient, from providing records to the public to reporting required federal data,” Romero said.
He said some other initial goals include:
- Finalizing a mutual aid agreement with law enforcement agencies like the Las Vegas Police Department, New Mexico State Police, and San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department.
- Refining and updating policies and procedures to help campus police and security officers be more of a resource for the campus community.
Romero serves on several committees for Highlands like emergency planning. In addition, he is a member of the San Miguel County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, which is coordinated through Highlands’ HU–CARES.
Romero is a 26-year veteran of the Las Vegas Police Department, beginning as a patrol officer and rising through the ranks from lieutenant to sergeant to captain. He also worked in investigations and was an undercover narcotics officer before being promoted as the Narcotics Unit commander. He led the Region IV Drug Enforcement Task Force for eight years before his retirement in 2005.
He also held command positions in emergency management, communications and records at the Las Vegas Police Department. Romero returned to the department as a patrol officer from 2006 – 2011.
“What always appealed to me about police work was the opportunity to help stop crime and assist people during personally traumatic events in their lives,” Romero said.
Romero earned numerous honors during his law enforcement career including being named for the New Mexico Narcotics Officer of the Year Award and the Las Vegas Police Department Exceptional Service Award.
He graduated from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy in 1985 and began his career as a patrol officer for the Questa Police Department. Over the years, he has completed more than 1,400 hours of additional advanced police training.
Romero, who was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico, enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 17-year-old in 1977.
“I joined the military at a young age and developed a strong work ethic, discipline and an understanding of different cultures,” Romero said.
He served as tank commander for the 1st Armored Division in Germany and as platoon sergeant with the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Carson, Colorado. He was honorably discharged in 1984.
The Highlands Police Department is a full-service agency that operates 24/7.
“We have a highly trained and dedicated staff with five certified police officers, four trained security officers, four certified dispatchers, and an outstanding administrative assistant,” Romero said.
For Highlands’ police and security services call 505-454-3278. For emergency services on campus, dial extension 5555 or use one of the blue emergency poles located throughout campus. The department is located in Hewett Hall at 1103 National Ave.