County appoints interim MDC chief

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Metropolitan Detention Center. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Bernalillo County has named an interim chief at the Metropolitan Detention Center to replace Chief Greg Richardson, who retired Thursday.

Rosanne Otero Gonzales, director of administrative services, will fill the role while the county conducts a nationwide search, according to a news release.

Otero Gonzales has 25 years of experience in corrections everything at the MDC — and has been in her current position since 2018. She oversees the departments of finance, human services, medicine, classification, public records, facilities, and PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act). She has also worked as a Case Management Supervisor, Court Liaison and Community Custody Program Liaison.

“Rosanne Otero Gonzales has a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the day-to-day operations of the MDC and is an excellent choice for the position of Acting Chief,” says County Executive Julie Morgas Baca. “We will work with staff and correctional officers to ensure the MDC continues to operate as efficiently as possible while a nationwide search for a new leader is underway.”

Richardson had been Chief since May 2020.

The prison has faced a staffing crisis and had to declare a state of emergency twice in the past month when there were not enough corrections officers to fill critical positions. Its vacancy rate is over 50%.

Detainees are routinely held in solitary confinement meaning they can’t leave their cell to take a shower or make a phone call for days at a time and 15 people have died in prison custody since April 2020, according to prison records.

Last month, the county and attorneys representing those incarcerated in McClendon’s lawsuit and settlement reached an agreement that requires the jail to meet staffing criteria, make improvements to the facility and track the time inmates spend outside their cells.

Larry Gallegos, a county spokesman, said the county executive, former Chief Richardson and the union held meetings to develop a plan to meet those criteria.

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