Legislation calls for statewide use of force policy

Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A state lawmaker is wanting a statewide use of force standard for all law enforcement officers in New Mexico. Senator Linda Lopez (D- Bernalillo) said one of the reasons why she’s pushing for this bill is because New Mexico has consistently ranked as one of the top states for police shootings.

“Our current laws governing the use of force have failed to protect communities,” said Sen. Lopez. “Officers here can use deadly force even when it’s not absolutely necessary for their safety or the safety of others also when alternatives have not been exhausted.”

Sen. Lopez said this bill makes it clear that use of force should be a last resort. If passed, officers cannot use physical force on someone unless the officer has exhausted de-escalation tactics. The proposal would also ban tactics like chokeholds, rubber bullets, tear gas, and no-knock warrants.

“Municipalities and counties and state police can have you know standard operating procedures so long as they comply with this bill and prioritize de-escalation,” said American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico Legal Director, Leon Howard.

The ACLU of New Mexico said local cases like the 2019 Bernalillo County shooting of Elisha Lucero inspired this bill. Her family said she was having a mental crisis when deputies arrived. Lucero was shot 21 times by BCSO deputies.

The bill was introduced at the Roundhouse. It will be heard in its first committee soon. The bill would also implement accountability and transparency, requiring that police departments report officer-involved injuries and the public could inspect records relating to officer misconduct.

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