Corrections officer arrested and charged with impersonating an officer

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A Central New Mexico Correctional Facility corrections officer has been placed on paid administrative leave after police said he impersonated an officer last month.

Belen police arrested corrections officer Jonas Barba, 31, of Belen, on Dec. 30 on an arrest warrant after police said he told an officer he was "a cop" when he was asked for his driver's license earlier that month.

According to an incident report, the officer approached Barba in the parking lot of Bealls in Belen after a female shopper told the officer she felt threatened by Barba.

She asked the officer to escort her to her car the day of the incident on Dec. 1.

The officer was dispatched to the store because of reports of suspicious people who have been known to shoplift from the store.

"You've got a driver's license, right?" the officer asked.

Barba replied, "I'm a cop, bro. Come on, bro," according to the report.

The report said the officer ran Barba's license plate number and the plate didn't match the vehicle.

At that point, Barba began cussing and "dropping the 'F' bomb," the report said.

Barba was not arrested until Dec. 30 — 29 days after the incident took place. He is charged with impersonating an officer and disorderly conduct.

He posted a $5,000 cash or surety bond and was released from the Valencia County Detention Center after his arrest.

"The officer chose not to arrest him at that time," said Belen Police Chief Dan Robb. "But (the officer) did later get a warrant for his arrest."

New Mexico Corrections Department spokeswoman Cristina Rodda said the internal investigation of Barba is expected to "last a few weeks," and said that it's important to department officials that allegations are "thoroughly investigated."

Barba has been employed with the corrections department since 2000, and is in charge of tasks from inmate management to inmate transports.

A News-Bulletin request for Barba's disciplinary history was declined. No court date has been set.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.