A motorcycle rights group is calling out the Bernalillo County Sheriff, claiming his deputies are profiling motorcyclists.
“Being profiled, it’s not a comfortable feeling,” Raymond Gallegos said.
The New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization says there’s been a string of incidents with BCSO, prompting them to write a letter to Sheriff Manuel Gonzales.
Some see the patches, the leather and certain colors on riders and assume criminal. However, Gallegos, vice chair of the NMMRO, says that’s far from the truth.
“So many of our organizations really benefit the community. We’re working for charities, we’re raising money for this organization or that organization,” he said.
Gallegos says members of the NMMRO have reported three incidents over the last year that call into question BCSO’s practices. It led the group to write a letter to Sheriff Gonzales that calls out the department for harassing, intimidating and even photographing riders.
“Another one was just a random stop. They pulled [the rider] over and really didn’t give him a reason other than the statement from the gang unit officer was, ‘Well, you’re wearing gang colors,'” Gallegos said.
Despite a few unpleasant past run-ins with BCSO, Gallegos says the group’s relationship with deputies has been rather positive.
So, NMMRO set up a meeting for July 30 with the sheriff.
“We really wanted to see how our community and BCSO could work together to get ahead of this profiling issue,” he said. “That was the intent of this meeting with the sheriff’s department.”
However, the meeting was canceled at the 11th hour, and the department never rescheduled until KRQE News 13 reached out Wednesday.
“The meeting, when it was scheduled originally, it was never included in the sheriff’s calendar. He wanted to be at the meeting. Unfortunately, that day he was unavailable because he was never made aware of the meeting,” BCSO spokesperson Johann Jareno said.
Jareno says there’s an ongoing operation to address reckless motorcyclists, but that deputies do not profile riders.
“This type of plans are targeted to bad driving, not to the people that are actually operating the vehicles,” Jareno said.
The re-do meeting is scheduled for Aug. 22. NMMRO has not sent similar letters to any other law enforcement agency.
The group says it’s also pursuing anti-profiling legislation, and encouraging its member who was allegedly profiled to seek legal counsel.