Expert Witness Says Police Violated Training, New Mexico Plans To Update Water Pollution Limits

Sep 20, 2016

Expert Witness Says Police Violated TrainingThe Associated Press 

An expert witness says two Albuquerque officers violated their own training when they fatally shot an armed homeless man during a 2014 standoff.

The testimony from police expert Jeffrey Noble came Tuesday in the trial of two former officers who face second-degree murder charges in the death of James Boyd.

Noble was called to the stand by special prosecutor Randi McGinn. She argues that police created a dangerous situation during the standoff that led to the deadly outcome.

Noble says officers had a layered plan to use less-lethal force to get Boyd to surrender.

When the plan failed, Noble says, officers could have stopped to reassess the situation and create distance between themselves and Boyd, but didn't.

Noble says Boyd had his knives out but posed no immediate threat when he was shot.

Defense attorneys have argued that Boyd, who was mentally ill and had history of violence against law enforcement, was a threat.

New Mexico Plans To Update Water Pollution LimitsThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico officials have proposed updating the state's water pollution regulations and some of the changes would bring the rules into alignment with federal standards.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state regulations have for years allowed higher levels of toxic pollutants than federal standards. The New Mexico Environment Department is trying to change that by setting new limits for pollution from businesses like dry cleaners and auto repair shops.

Many of the pollutants have been linked to environmental hazards and cancer.

The department is currently seeking public comments on the proposed revisions to the surface and groundwater regulations.

Agency officials are holding meetings in Las Cruces and elsewhere. They expect to go before the state Water Quality Control Commission for approval next spring.

Martinez Eyes Death Penalty In Special SessionThe Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez says she will place reinstating the death penalty on the agenda for the pending special session to fix the state's budget.

The Republican said in a statement Tuesday that she wants the death penalty as an option for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.

New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009 before Martinez took office by replacing provisions for lethal injection with a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Martinez previously indicated she would back legislation for capital punishment during the upcoming state legislative session in January.

The move comes as lawmakers are calling for a special session to address an half a billion dollar shortfall.

Albuquerque Leaders Promote Solar PowerThe Associated Press & KOB

Albuquerque leaders have approved a resolution calling for the city to rely more on solar energy.

KOB-TV reports that the resolution sets a goal of generating a quarter of the energy for city facilities through solar power by 2025.

It states that the city recognizes the environmental health, public health and economic benefits of solar energy.

City Councilor Pat Davis says the city currently spends millions of dollars a year on energy and less than 3 percent of it comes from renewable sources. He says the council commissioned a study on the issue last spring and discovered that the panels could be installed on nearly 40 city-owned buildings for $45 million.

He estimated that doing so would save taxpayers about $3 million a year.

DOJ To Meet With New Mexico Pueblos On Opioid AddictionAssociated Press

The U.S. Justice Department is meeting with American Indian tribal leaders from an area of the country devastated by heroin and opioid addiction.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohris is scheduled Tuesday to talk with representatives and police chiefs from the eight northern New Mexico Native American Pueblos as part of a push to combat heroin-related deaths.

For years, the northern New Mexico city of Espanola has had one of the nation's highest heroin-related death rates.

A Nation Institute on Drug Abuse survey found that American Indian students' annual heroin and Oxycontin use was about two to three times higher than the national averages from 2009 to 2012.

The Justice Department meeting is part of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education Initiative.

New Mexico Sues To Block Expansion Of Overtime Pay Law The  Associated Press

A coalition of 21 states including New Mexico is suing the U.S. Department of Labor over a new rule that would make more higher-earning workers eligible for overtime pay.

The Nevada Attorney General filed the lawsuit in Texas today urging the court to block implementation before the regulation takes effect on Dec. 1.

The measure would shrink the so-called "white collar exemption" and more than double the salary threshold under which employers must pay overtime to their workers.

Laxalt said the rule would burden private and public sectors and represents inappropriate federal overreach.

Officials from the labor department didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other plaintiffs include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

New Mexico Election Officials Reach Out To Eligible VotersAssociated Press  

New Mexico election officials say almost a half-million people in the state appear eligible to vote in the upcoming general election but haven't registered.

The secretary of state's office announced Monday that it's sending postcards to more than 459,000 people inviting them to register by the Oct. 11 deadline.

The mailing was paid for by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and county clerks across the state.

The list of unregistered voters was generated by the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit group of states that helps improve the accuracy of voter registration lists. New Mexico recently joined the group.

State officials say it's possible for registered voters to receive the postcard if their driver's license or state ID records don't exactly match an existing voter registration record.

Number Of Albuquerque Murder Cases Matches 2015 TotalAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The number of homicides in Albuquerque so far this year already matches the total number of murders in 2015.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 2015 was the deadliest year in the city since 2009, but after only 9 and a half months of 2016, this year is on track to be worse. Albuquerque Police Department detectives have investigated 46 homicides so far in Albuquerque, the total for all of last year.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office did not provide the number of homicides it has investigated so far this year.

If homicides continue at the current rate, 2016 will see more homicides than it has since 1996, when the number hit 70.

Mayor Richard Berry says he has been talking with politicians about how to address the high rate.

Partners Launch Anti-Opioid Effort In New MexicoAssociated Press

Federal officials are partnering with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center on a new project aimed at boosting access to a life-saving drug used to combat opioid overdoses.

Officials announced the Naxolone Project during a news conference Monday in Albuquerque.

The announcement comes as federal prosecutors across the country sponsor events to increase awareness and discuss possible solutions to the growing epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse.

The goal of the latest project is to enlist more law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to implement protocols and carry naxolone.

The most recent federal data available shows New Mexico is second only to West Virginia in per-capita deaths primarily due to prescription and illegal opioid drugs.

Taos County Authorities Investigate Woman's Suspicious DeathAssociated Press

Authorities in Taos County say they're investigating a suspicious death after a woman's body was found near a roadway.

County sheriff's deputies say a passer-by found the woman unconscious near the intersection of County Road 110 and Los Cordovas Road on Sunday evening.

Deputies contacted the Office of the Medical Investigator when they discovered the woman had no pulse.

Authorities say the woman's identity hasn't been determined yet.

Deputies sought help from the New Mexico State Police in processing the crime scene.

Spaceport, BLM Near Agreement On Road Off I-25Las Cruces Sun News, Associated Press

Officials say construction could begin in April on a road from Interstate 25 to New Mexico's Spaceport America.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors voted Friday to allow the chair to sign an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management. The vote is the first step toward finalizing a plan to construct the road from the Upham exit off I-25.

Work can't begin until the BLM and the Spaceport Authority sign off on the Memorandum of Agreement. The construction is expected to last about a year.

There is currently a dirt road leading from the highway to the Spaceport.

Southern New Mexico County Is Doubling Down On Pesky WeedsAlamogordo News, Associated Press

A southern New Mexico county is doubling down on pesky weeds.

The Alamogordo News reports that Otero County Commissioners recently endorsed a plan to combat invasive and noxious weeds, like the African rue. That weed and others have taken over county property, roadways and forest land.

Officials say they also are worried about the Russian knapweed, salt cedar, and musk thistle.

The Otero Soil and Water Conservation District is developing a management plan and outlining how officials will fight the species.

According to officials, the invasive species undermines efforts in the county to manage the land and promote agriculture. They say these non-native plants compete with native species for very limited resources, degrade native habitats and disrupt natural processes.