A drug-sniffing dog now is the only certified member of the police force in the small eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn. Police Chief Ernest "Chris" Armijo decided to step down this week after news stories reported that he wasn't allowed to carry a gun because of his criminal background—delinquent child support payments and felony weapons charges. That leaves Nikka the pooch as the only qualified member of the Vaughn Police Department. Vaughn's other officer isn't certified and pleaded guilty to charges of assault and battery last year. Non-certified officers can't make arrests or carry firearms.
But an attorney for the town says not having an officer qualified to carry a gun didn't put Vaughn at risk. "England doesn't allow police officers to carry guns," he said. "Sometimes the strongest weapon in law enforcement is communication." The attorney says it's unclear whether Vaughn will keep the police dog, which had been in Armijo's care.