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New Mexico lawmakers approve state mandate for police body cams

SANTA FE, New Mexico — New Mexico state legislators approved a measure to increase police accountability by requiring body cameras for state and local law enforcement officers before adjourning from a special session that was called to deal with budget issues. It now goes to the governor for her signature.

The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted 44-26 Monday afternoon in favor of Senate-approved reforms — supported by the governor — that mandate cameras for all state and local law enforcement officers with the exception of tribal police.

"Senate Bill 8, mandating body cameras and a big step toward ensuring law enforcement accountability, has passed the Legislature. My thanks to the lawmakers who recognize we must keep up this effort and ensure a safe and just New Mexico for all," tweeted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham shortly after the vote was taken.

Video must be archived by police agencies for 120 days, under the bill. Police agencies that flout the camera requirement could be sued for withholding evidence.

The bill also includes new sanctions for police convicted for unlawful use of force or failure to stop excessive force by colleagues -- permanently revoking police certification unless the conviction is pardoned by the governor.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had urged the Legislature to seize upon the momentum of demonstrations set off by George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police to enact policing reforms including mandatory body-worn cameras for police.

Presenting the bill on the state House floor, Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena of Mesilla said police transparency reforms were urgently needed.

“Our communities have a right to feel safe in their lives, they deserve to live with respect and dignity,” Lara Cadena said. “We have our own stories about encounters (with police) that have gone wrong and ended with death.”

Lara Cadena said that 26 out of 33 county sheriff’s departments in the state already use body cameras; Dona Ana County is not among those.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, elected by New Mexico’s largest county that encircles Albuquerque, has long expressed opposition to body cameras.

House Republicans rallied against the proposed legislation as hastily written and financially burdensome for police agencies that don’t use cameras.

“As you increase the cost of those police officers, cities and counties are going to have to make the decision: Do we raise taxes or do we cut the number of police officers on the street,” said Republican House Minority Leader James Townsend of Artesia.

Bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces, highlighted the widespread use of body cameras in major cities and recent revelations about police brutality, in an impassioned floor speech last week.

Cervantes also invoked the death of Antonio Valenzuela at the hands of Las Cruces police officers in a video-recorded encounter in February that has led to charge of involuntary manslaughter against one officer.

The Albuquerque Police Department, the largest in the state, has been using cameras for years as it implements reforms under a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department. Federal authorities in 2014 issued a scathing report in response to a series of deadly police shootings in the city that pointed to patterns of excessive force, constitutional violations and a lack of training and oversight of its officers.

The House declined to vote on a Senate-approved bill aimed at identifying and uprooting institutionalized racism in state government. That doomed the proposal to document the ethnic and racial demographics of agency workforces and provide training to avoid institutional racism.

The state Senate adjourned over the weekend from the special legislative session before it could endorse minor House amendments to the bill in response to concerns by state personnel officials.

Democratic Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque vowed to revive the bill when the Legislature returns in 2021.

“I’m saddened, but we’ll be back,” she said.

KVIA ABC-7

Associated Press

Comments

32 Comments

  1. Why waste the money since everyone wants police forces disbanded anyway!!! Besides, it will just blow up in the Liberals faces when they see the sh*t LEO’s must deal with on a daily basis. In case you haven’t guessed, I stand behind Law Enforcement!

    1. Nice try K1DPR. No more snoozing, no more donut shops, no more girlfriend encounters. This is only for the bad cops like madmike. And yes!!!! We want to see what the LEOs have to deal with.

  2. Nobody wants police forces disbanded. Every decent citizen stands behind law enforcement. These body cams are the issue here with the Republicans sniveling about their cost. They cost almost nothing if you make the right deal. They protect officers from bogus brutality complaints.

      1. I am super interested in the 8hr work day of a LEO. I want to see the sacrifices and the tortoreus job they have. LET’s see it!! they deserve recognition! Lets see it via video cam. Without them society doesnt exist!!! We are all dead without the LEO madmikes, apparently. A reality TV show sure seems fitting. Video 24/7. oh, oh, oh, they wasted 90% of the workday. crap!! cut the video!!!!!!! not what we had in mind.

  3. Feo’s Stupidity always gets in the way of valid conversations. Just ignore the dummy! Hey Feo what are you doing up so late. The later it gets the crabbier you get. Drink your glass of warm milk and eat your cookies. You’ll feel better. Nighty night grumpy.

  4. Hey Feo! I Know why you’re Grumpy. Your Goofy president got had last Saturday night by a bunch of Tik Tok teenagers. Just think what the Biden Organization is going to do to Trump come November. TIK TOK, TIK TOK.
    BIDEN2020,BIDEN2020. Black Lives Matter!!

    1. How about that Biden rally last week with only 20 people showing? So even if only 6000 people attended the Trump Tulsa MAGA rally that is 5980 more than Biden’s. LMAO.

      BTW – Trump was out in public. Biden was hiding in his basement. So far the Biden operation is a big nothing burger. Also, chickened out by not wanting more than 3 debates against Trump. They can only hide crazy Joe for so long.

  5. I’m for cameras all the way!!! Increase taxes. Dgaf !! Charge me more in taxes but I want my tax dollars hard at work! Don’t want a Madmike stopping my son. Without a camera.

  6. IAM ALL FOR BODY CAMS 24/7 for LEOs. I want to see the bad guys. Justification for murder. I am all in. Show us! I mean, poor LeOs! They are innocent guys just defending their lives. I want to see it. So…..cameras 24/7.

    1. What’s the matter Alberto? Sad they took Cops and Live PD off the air. Now go find something else to do other than playing with yourself. You can’t be a police hater if you want to be one. Alberto the wannabe cop. lmao.

  7. I willing to pay more taxes to pay for software storage. I mean….. I’m willing and will pay more taxes. Have to defend these poor souls (LEOs). They are ALWAYs working. You see them at the entrance of Walmart and sams! These guys have no time. Always working.

      1. That markturner alias of his is really dumb. He is starting to use Alberto’s keywords used only in his rants. Only Alberto V. used them over the past 4 years or so. Like hillbilly trumptards, hillbilly Republicans or hillbilly white trash. Plus his TDS is off the scales. Now he is doing more personal ad hominem attacks like he used to do when he was High420Lonesome the idiot.

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