Updated: January 05, 2021 10:13 PM
Created: January 05, 2021 09:31 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Sheriff’s Department Advisory Board will meet this week to address BCSO Sheriff Manny Gonzales’ decision to focus on violent crime instead of the state public health orders.
Last month, Sheriff Gonzales put out a video where he said he would not enforce “unconstitutional laws” in the state’s coronavirus response.
“There’s a level of fearmongering when these messages are being sent out,” Sheriff Gonzales said in the video.
When asked if he stands by statements about the public health order, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department sent the following statement:
“We support these precautions and we have the duty to protect the public. The public has voiced their concerns about some of the measures being considered unconstitutional, and it is our duty to the public to uphold their fundamental rights as citizens of this country. During a tragic violent crime crisis we want to assure the public that our top priority is to combat violent crime.
The Sheriff’s Office Advisory and Review Board, which was established last year by county commissioners, monitors the department and makes recommendations to the sheriff. However, it’s up to Sheriff Gonzales if he wants to take their advice.
“Citizens have let their commissioners know that there’s some amount of frustration about the sheriff’s office and whether or not there’s transparency,” said Former Judge Tommy Jewell, a member of the advisory board.
“And the mission of that board, basically, is to be a conduit for advice and comment from the community to both the sheriff’s office and commission,” he added.
Jewell said BCSO officials have attended some of their meetings and hopes they can continue working together moving forward.
During the Friday meeting, the group will also discuss Gonzales’ unwillingness to cooperate with District Attorney Raul Torrez about tracking law enforcement officer misconduct.
DA Torrez sent a letter to Sheriff Gonzales in late 2019 asking his deputies to fill out a questionnaire regarding misconduct, but Gonzales didn’t think it was necessary.
“It's my belief, and frankly, it's the belief of virtually every court that's looked at this, that public servants that are wearing a badge and a gun that are authorized to enforce the law and use force on the streets of Albuquerque and investigate crimes—when they've engaged in misconduct, they don't have a privacy, right to keep that information, certainly from prosecutors. The Constitution, in fact, requires that we ask the questions,” said DA Torrez in a previous KOB 4 interview.
The Friday meeting will begin at 11 a.m. For more information, click here.
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