Nikka the police dog is only cop in N.M. town after chief resigns

A drug sniffing dog named Nikka is the last certified member of the police force in the eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn.
Nikka the drug-sniffing dog is the only certified member of the police force in the eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn.

(CBS/AP) VAUGHN, N.M. - The police chief of the small eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn resigned Wednesday, leaving Nikka the drug-sniffing dog as the only member of the police force.

PICTURES: Police chief resigns, dog is only cop in NM town

Dave Romero, attorney for the town, said Wednesday that police Chief Ernest "Chris" Armijo decided to step down after news stories reported that he wasn't allowed to carry a gun because of his criminal background.

Now, according to records, the only certified member of the town's police department is "Nikka" a drug-sniffing dog. The only other Vaughn officer pleaded guilty to charges of assault last year and isn't qualified.

Non-certified officers aren't allowed to make arrests or carry firearms.

State officials said Armijo couldn't carry a gun since acknowledging that he owed tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent child support payments in Texas. According to CBS affiliate KRQE, Armijo had instead been carrying a fake gun.

Armijo also faces new felony charges after being accused of selling a town-owned rifle and pocketing the cash.

Romero said Armijo is working to clear up the charges against him and has not ruled out seeking the police chief's position again if his case is resolved and the position is open.

Officials in the town of 450 people, about 100 miles east of Albuquerque, are considering whether to hire another police chief or keep the department staffed with just one officer, Romero says. He said it's unclear whether the town will keep the police dog, which had been in Armijo's care.

At Penny's Diner, residents said they were embarrassed by the attention the episode has focused on the small town.

"There's just a whole lot of nothing going on here," said cook Joyce Tabor. "We have very little crime. It's quiet. So this really doesn't matter."