Updated: June 22, 2020 05:18 PM
Created: June 22, 2020 04:33 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A bill that requires all law enforcement officers in New Mexico to wear body cameras is headed to the governor’s desk.
The bill passed in the state House, 44-26, Monday afternoon.
The vote followed three hours of debate on the house floor, the maximum time allowed.
The state Senate had already passed the bill.
Some law enforcement agencies, like the Albuquerque Police Department, already require officers to wear body cameras.
The bill would impact agencies that don’t – like the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
It will also require all law enforcement agencies in the state to create their own policies and procedures for body cameras in their own departments.
“They basically have to have in that procedure instruction as to when one might need to turn on their body camera, make sure that camera is kept on for the appropriate amount of time and appropriate situation, it instructs them when they have room to turn off that camera," said Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, a Democrat. "It requires that they keep the video data from that recording for 120 days and then it requires and allows them to create their own disciplinary rules related to what might happen when these policies are not followed.”
Republicans were opposed to this bill for many reasons-- saying it wasn’t vetted well. They also called it an unfunded mandate because the bill provides no state funding to law enforcement agencies to pay for body cameras.
“I think the cost of this piece of legislation is deemed by many as an unfunded mandate. I have had mayors tell me most of this we do already. I’ve had other mayors tell me my police force cannot afford this. I do not have the capacity for this. And it’s viewed by many as an effort to reduce the amount of policemen on the streets because as you increase the cost of those police officers cities and counties are going to have to make the decision – do we raise taxes or do we cut the number of police officers on the street to do it," said Rep. James G. Townsend, a Republican.
The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.
Senate Bill 8, mandating body cameras and a big step toward ensuring law enforcement accountability, has passed the Legislature. My thanks to the lawmakers who recognize we must keep up this effort and ensure a safe and just New Mexico for all. #nmpol #nmleg— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) June 22, 2020
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