Updated: October 12, 2020 06:24 PM
Created: October 12, 2020 03:08 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the new body camera requirement into law earlier this year, New Mexico law enforcement agencies had 90-days to comply.
With the deadline now passed, there are still many agencies that don’t have body cameras, including the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
"New Mexicans deserve increased transparency and accountability from our law enforcement agencies. Body-worn cameras are a commonsense solution that protects both police officers and the public they serve," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Micaela Lara Cardena (D-District 33) "Like any law on the books, should an agency fail to implement policies and provide body-worn cameras to their law enforcement officers, this issue may be taken up in a court of law.”
BCSO officials said they’re still reviewing possible vendors for the technology.
“We did meet the deadline in terms of developing the SOP—what the SB 8 had mandated the agencies do,” said BCSO Undersheriff Larry Koren. “We did that and there are some things we simply aren't in control of and that's the procurement side, and that's what happens when you have an unfunded mandate. You set these agencies up for failure.”
In San Juan County, the sheriff’s office also don’t have body cameras yet, but it recently out in a requisition to purchase 90 cameras and supporting technology, which will cost about $289,000.
While legislation does not include specific penalties for noncompliance, New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf said, “There's a number of options if an agency doesn't comply with the law. There are processes within the law enforcement academy that can be looked at, there could be legal action that could be brought by the attorney general—there are number of options.”
As for BCSO, it’s unclear how long it will take to complete the purchasing process, but Undersheriff Koren said they’re working as fast as possible.
“Some of the real-time transparency and accountability equipment that helps keeps our officers and our deputies safe is what we're after and we're trying to get to that 100 percent participation and the technology that we've scoped out is a good fit for our agency,” he said.
KOB 4 reached out the governor’s office to see if they’re tracking which agencies are in compliance and what enforcement might look like, but they did not respond.
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