The sheriff's office took over the director position


FARMINGTON — Sgt. Candice Mitchell is adjusting to her role as the new director of the San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Authority, overseeing the training of cadets for local law enforcement agencies.

Mitchell said she is still getting her feet wet in her third week at Safety City, the San Juan County police training facility in Kirtland.

The San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Authority operates as a joint venture with local law enforcement agencies contributing to the costs of running the police academy and serving on the nonprofit's board.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office took over the director's position this month following the retirement of the previous director, Farmington Sgt. Brandon Lane, according to Undersheriff Shane Ferrari.

Ferrari stated the Sheriff's Office had been in talks with Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe about taking over the position earlier this year.

Ferrari went to the San Juan County Commission on Sept. 8 and got approval for additional funding to cover Mitchell's benefits as the academy pays her salary. 

"She is a great leader and proved herself at the Sheriff's Office," Ferrari said. "We're proud to have her out there."

In her new office, Mitchell discussed her more than 23 years involved in criminal justice and her excitement to lead the police academy.

"My goal is just to see all of our cadets that come through the academy be successful," Mitchell said

Mitchell said she was honored to be offered the opportunity to manage the police academy.

She held several positions across San Juan County before joining the Sheriff's Office 10 years ago.

Mitchell has worked as a criminal investigator for the San Juan County District Attorney's Office, a probation/parole officer and a crime analyst for the Bloomfield Police Department.

She has been the training and recruiting sergeant for the Sheriff's Office the last two years.

A love of training is what led Mitchell to take the job.

She was a personal fitness trainer, and has trained cadets at the academy as a defensive tactics instructor.  

"I love to see (the cadets) grow in confidence of their abilities," Mitchell said.

The biggest thing for Mitchell is training cadets for survival on the streets and instilling a good work ethic during basic training.

Mitchell is the first woman to hold the director position since the police academy was formed in 1997.

By taking the director position, she hopes to serve as an example for women interested in pursuing law enforcement.

About 12 percent of police officers nationwide were women in 2016, according to the FBI.

"We can do the job as well as any man could do the job," Mitchell said.

One area Mitchell is working on is increasing the amount of communication or networking the police academy does with other academies statewide.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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