UP — It took two weeks, but we were glad to finally see the chronology of events released by the Farmington Police Department on the March 12 chase that ended in the death of John Marszalek II. Little information had been released until the Wednesday press release. But the release shed a good amount of light on what happened that day. According to the chronology, Marszalek was acting erratically, climbing out of the sunroof on his truck and exposing himself at a stoplight. He called police warning them not to follow him before he rammed a police car blocking an intersection. Police used "tire deflation devices" twice in an attempt to disable his truck. And, according to the report, law enforcement officers twice used Tasers to stop Marszalek, with little effect. He continued ramming the police car and stabbing himself in the neck. These are the kinds of details that end speculation and put a tragic event into context. We're still waiting for the official cause of death. After the investigation is wrapped up, the District Attorney's Office will determine whether the shooting was justified. We believe it is important that law enforcement officials are transparent on these kinds of incidents. City residents have a right to know what tactics were used and how they were employed. This not only speaks to accountability, it also allows residents to regain a sense of safety and security.
DOWN — OK, it could just be that we're stuck in the past, but we aren't head-over-heels in love with the new online system for New Mexico fishing licenses. As of April 1, anglers no longer will be able to get the old-syle licenses from an official pad stuffed with carbon paper. Some of us here fondly remember the old plasticized paper licenses that popped up in the tackle box — as you dug for that lure you haven't used in years — reminding you of past expeditions. But our objection is not simply due to hazy nostalgia. San Juan County still has a fair number of places that are hard to reach by Internet (or regular passenger car, for that matter). We think broadband Internet access should come before a wholesale conversion to the digital realm.
UP — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has been spending a lot of time in the Farmington area recently. On this last trip, she announced, among other things, funding for completion of an upgrade to a section of U.S. Highway 491. That road connects Shiprock and Gallup and already is heavily used by commercial vehicles. As Farmington begins an effort to expand its manufacturing sector and the Navajo Nation looks for customers to buy coal from the recently purchased Navajo Mine, that road will be even more important. But it has been called "The Devil's Highway" for more reasons than the fact it used to bear the number "666." It has been on the list of most dangerous highways for decades. That's because it has had a fatality rate six times higher than any other of the state's highways. Expanding the 21.8-mile section to four lanes is expected to cost up to $75 million. Widening the highway should improve safety, even though it won't solve the main threat to drivers. Martinez said 60 percent of the fatalities were alcohol-related. Nonetheless, we support this investment and think it will support the region's economic growth plans.