4 Investigates: AG investigates former SRO who used questionable force on student | KOB 4
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4 Investigates: AG investigates former SRO who used questionable force on student

Nathan O'Neal
October 29, 2019 06:18 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is investigating a former Farmington school resource officer who used questionable force on a middle school student. He is also calling for more specialized training for school personnel and law enforcement.

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“It’s a real black eye for the state of New Mexico,” said Balderas.

Former Farmington police officer Zachary Christensen resigned following an internal investigation conducted by the department. He has not been criminally charged.

The attorney general’s office has since opened an investigation into the incident.

“I'm convinced that we have not offered enough training to resource officers when dealing with special needs students,” Balderas said.

Last month, the attorney general charged a former Rio Arriba deputy with child abuse after he repeatedly used a Taser on a special needs student back in May.

Balderas worries that school resource officers are criminalizing disruptive behavior in schools. He is calling on state lawmakers to fund more specialized training.

“For me, this is a school campus safety crisis situation that should be treated just like school shootings or any other type of conflict or challenge our schools are facing now,” Balderas said.

He added later: “Ultimately we need law enforcement at the table as an adequate partner, not someone who students fear. So this is a top priority for lawmakers, the governor and our office to really get our hands around improving campus safety overall.”

Some New Mexico lawmakers have already signaled they plan to tackle the issue of disciplining students with disabilities during the next January legislative session.

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Nathan O'Neal

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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