A years-old debate over use of force by police could resurface in the coming 30-day legislative session, as Gov. Susana Martinez plans to push legislation that would grant legal immunity to New Mexico law enforcement officers for actions in the line of duty.
The Republican governor, a former prosecutor, says the legislation would provide a shield of sorts for law enforcement officers – provided they’re adhering to training – in a state that has one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates.
“I don’t believe that police officers should be under this constant threat of lawsuits that will often cause them to pause,” Martinez recently told the Journal. “If they’re following their training, there should be something that protects them.”
However, critics describe the legislation as misguided and possibly unconstitutional, while citing a recent federal investigation that found Albuquerque police had a pattern of excessive force. That led to a settlement agreement between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Standing up for officers who are using excessive force and violating the Constitution is exactly the wrong way to move,” said Steven Robert Allen, the public policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico. “I don’t know what problem the governor thinks she’s addressing, but she seems to be going in the wrong direction.”
In recent years, numerous lawsuits have been filed against New Mexico law enforcement officers, and some of the suits have led to hefty settlement agreements.
I'm old enough to remember when Martinez's name was thrown around as a veep pick for various 2016 GOP candidates as a blue state Latina, and Trump immediately attacked her to ruin that. It worked, and now Martinez is trying to go for the soft police state in order to burnish her credentials.
You know, she's a moderate.