Law enforcement officers across New Mexico will be required to wear body cameras while on duty if Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs a bill that passed the state House of Representatives 44-26 this afternoon.
By ROBERT NOTT
Senate Bill 8, introduced by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, also calls for revoking an officer’s certification following a conviction, guilty plea or no-contest plea to a charge of unlawful use of force or unlawfully threatening use of force in the line of duty.
Under the measure, an officer also could have their certification revoked if they failed to intervene when another officer is illegally using force.
The bill is one of several police reform efforts lawmakers considered during the special session that began Thursday. The session was set to end Saturday, but the House opted to meet again Monday rather than debate bills into the late hours of Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
SB 8 requires each law enforcement agency in the state to draft its own policies regarding these mandates. It comes after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in police custody in Minnesota, prompted protests nationwide calling for police reforms and an end to systemic racism.
House Democrats praised the bill as a necessary step in ensuring police accountability — particularly in a state with the highest rate of people killed by law enforcement officers over the last five years, according to two separate national reports.
“Our communities have a right to remain safe … should they have to interact with a law enforcement officer,” said Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla, who presented the bill on the House floor Monday.
She said the video cameras worn by officers will help ensure people interacting with police “walk away from that engagement alive. … We have our own stories about encounters that go wrong and have ended with death”.
The bill now goes to Lujan Grisham for consideration. If she signs it, the bill will go into effect 90 days later.