SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – State representatives are still meeting in Santa Fe after working through the weekend to fix the budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 and crashing oil prices. Monday, they passed a bill that would require all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. The bill is endorsed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Right now, several departments across the state don’t have body cameras and this bill would change that.
“Senate Bill 8 requires all law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to create their own policies and procedures to enact body-worn cameras for their officers,” said Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena (D-Mesilla).
Under this bill, law enforcement officers would have to turn on their cameras while they’re responding to a call or interacting with the public and would not be allowed to turn off their cameras until the interaction is complete. This bill also states that if a law enforcement officer uses illegal force and does not intervene if they see other officers using illegal force, they would lose their law enforcement certificate.
Some Republican lawmakers say they like this bill, but have problems with some aspects of this bill, saying agencies wouldn’t have time to train or find state money to fund this. “I think this bill is too heavy of a lift for this special session. I think this bill is being perceived by the public as being rushed through,” said Rep. James Townsend (R-House Minority Floor Leader).
This bill does not have an appropriation but some lawmakers said they want to use federal money to fund it. This bill was originally aimed at Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office but have since changed it to officers statewide. School resource officers would be required to wear cameras as well.
The House passed the bill 44-26. It now heads to the governor. The House still needs to vote on another bill that would provide financial relief for small businesses because of the pandemic.