In Dire Financial Straits, New Mexico Border Town Is Left Without A Police Force

Columbus has been a frequent target for drug and weapons smugglers.

As Marie Diamond noted last week, budget cuts in Alto, Texas forced the town to lay off its entire police force, prompting the city’s mayor to remark that “everybody’s talking about ‘bolt your doors, buy a gun.”

Now, another town reeling from a financial crisis is being forced to do the same. The border town of Columbus, New Mexico, fired its six-person police force because it was unable to keep them on city payrolls:

Still reeling from a scandal that claimed its former mayor, and potentially its former police chief and a village trustee, a small New Mexico border town is now without a police department. Columbus, New Mexico, with a population of about 1,800, is in such financial disarray that the town is not even sure how much it owes, current Mayor Nicole Lawson told CNN.

Whatever that amount is, she said, “we don’t have it.” The sudden drying of the town coffers meant that Columbus, situated across the border from Puerto Palomas, Mexico — a town known to be a staging area for drug cartels — had to fire its six-person police department. The decision to do away with the department “was based on the financial crisis we are in,” Lawson said.

The town’s “code enforcement and animal control components” were also abolished when the police force was disbanded. Columbus will now be relying on the police force of Luna County to attend to its security needs.