Randy Foster to become chief in Arizona town

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FARMINGTON — The Bloomfield police chief is retiring this month as he prepares to relocate out of state for a new position.

Randy Foster was selected as the new town marshal/police chief for the city of Camp Verde, Arizona, last week. The town is located south of Flagstaff, Arizona.

A representative for the town of Camp Verde called Foster while he was on vacation last week and told him he had gotten the job. Foster submitted his resignation Tuesday, and his last day on the job is June 18.

Foster will be able to collect his retirement in New Mexico while working in Arizona.

The new position came about when Foster visited Camp Verde after his father suggested he might retire in the Arizona desert, and Foster saw an advertisement for the position. Foster applied for the job, but later learned his father was going to move to Denver instead.

He said Camp Verde reminds him of the Bloomfield area, citing the rivers that run through both cities.

Foster was hired by the city of Bloomfield in June 2014, according to The Daily Times archives.

He was serving as a deputy for the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office at the time, a position he took in 2013 after being fired by the Los Alamos County Police Department. Foster was fired after a lawsuit filed by a former corporal was settled, and the corporal was awarded $600,000.

Foster and two other plaintiffs filed their own lawsuit against Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos County Police Department in 2014, and they received a $2 million settlement in February 2016 to dismiss the suit, according to The Daily Times archives.

Foster started his 20-year career with the Los Alamos County Police Department in 1998 after graduating from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. He worked his way up to becoming the Los Alamos acting chief in 2012.

Foster said he likes the city of Bloomfield, the residents and his coworkers.

"I never had the feeling of I don’t want to go into work," Foster said.

As for the Bloomfield Police Department, Foster believes he has improved the working environment at the department and has seen the number of vehicle collisions in Bloomfield decrease by 50 percent since he started.

"Even though we've had some money troubles in Bloomfield, people are staying here because we have a good work environment," Foster said.

The city's budget woes have led to three positions in the department being eliminated and three other positions being frozen when employees left, reducing the number of officers from 22 to 16.

"When you lose 25 percent of your force, it's hard to accomplish the things you wanted to do," Foster said.

One of the initiatives Foster planned was to dedicate one position solely to handling traffic issues, which he said is one of the most common complaints that police departments hear.

Foster expressed pride in the community outreach events initiated by his department to help residents become more familiar with officers.

He cited the Jr. Police Academy, during which local students spend a week learning about the various aspects of police work, and the Summer Jams, during which basketball goals are set up in neighborhoods for a block party, as important interactions with the community.

"What we need to do is create an opportunity to have interactions with the public that aren't based upon enforcement and those type of things," Foster said.

The city of Bloomfield has not finalized how the next police chief will be selected but a decision is expected to be made next week, according to Donna Clifton, the city’s human resources analyst and compliance manager.

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

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