Recent shootings have some asking to revisit 'Kendra's Law'

Created: 03/31/2014 6:23 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The James Boyd shooting has some state lawmakers talking about big changes in laws dealing with mentally ill people who are judged to be a threat to public safety –but Gov. Martinez says not so fast.

It’s called “Kendra’s Law” and you won’t find it in New Mexico law books. Our state is just one of a handful that doesn’t have the law, which requires mental patients who have been judged dangerous to take their medications and get psychiatric treatment, or get locked up.

Boyd was in and out of jails and mental hospitals, over and over again. He was committing crimes, frequently violent ones, but was always found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, so time after time he was back on the street. It all ended for Boyd in a fatal confrontation with Albuquerque police in the foothills on March 16. While some members of the legislature are considering the introduction of  Kendra legislation in the 60-day session that begins next January, Gov. Susana Martinez says hold your horses.

“I think what’s important first is to find out what happened,” The governor said. “  The full details of the FBI investigation will tell us whether that played a part in it or not. We want the public to have faith and confidence in whatever results from that investigation.”

An earlier case also sparked a Kendra’s Law debate.  John Hyde, a mental patient who went off his meds, killed five people, including two APD officers. But the legislature didn’t go for the bill in subsequent sessions.

"Kendra’s Law" is named after Kendra Webdale, a New York City woman who died when a schizophrenic man shoved her in front of a subway train in 1999.

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