Weekend News Roundup: Albuquerque Protest To Put Police Chief 'On Trial'

Jun 20, 2014

Albuquerque Protest To Put Police Chief 'On Trial' The Associated Press

Critics of Albuquerque police say they will put the embattled police chief "on trial" during a planned rally Saturday.

Demonstrators say the march scheduled to start at Roosevelt Park at noon, is aimed at pushing for reforms at APD following a harsh U.S. Justice Department report over the agency's use of force.

Albuquerque police also are under scrutiny over 40 police shootings — 26 of them fatal — since 2010.

David Correia, one of the protest organizers, says the mock trial will outline how Police Chief Gorden Eden has failed to stop his officers from using excessive force.

In a statement, Eden says police have talked to protest organizers and officers will be providing traffic escorts for the marchers.

US To Open Immigrant Family Detention Center In NM - The Associated Press

The federal government says the first new detention facility to house families caught crossing the border illegally amid a surge from Central America will be in New Mexico.

Officials say a 700-bed family detention facility will be located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. Officials have not given an opening date but say it will be soon.

Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the administration is actively looking for additional space to house immigrant families, primarily mothers with young children, caught crossing the Mexican border illegally.

Holy Ghost Canyon Closes Due To Flooding Concerns - The Associated Press

Officials with the Santa Fe National Forest have decided to close Holy Ghost Canyon north of Pecos starting June 21.

They say the decision is being made to ensure public health and safety since the area is still recovering from a large wildfire that charred thousands of acres last summer. With summer rains approaching, they say the risk of flooding in the canyon is much greater.

A team of rehabilitation experts assigned to the 2013 Tres Lagunas Fire had recommended the area remain closed during the rainy season for the next few years.

The canyon will remain off limits until the end of September.

The closure covers the forest road that passes through the canyon, the summer home tract area and the Holy Ghost campground and trailhead.  

State Police Have Yet To Interview Officers In Fatal Española ShootingThe Santa Fe New Mexican

Eleven days after the death of 16-year-old Victor Villalpando, New Mexico State Police investigators have yet to interview the two Española police officers involved in the shooting.

Police say the teen was killed after he pointed a gun at an Española officer near Riverside Drive and Corlett Road on June 8.

The Santa Fe New Mexican was told that investigators had interviewed Officer Jerry Apodaca, who fired the shot, and his partner, Officer Ritchie Trujillo, four days after the incident.

But now state police say the interviews were never conducted.

The New Mexican reports Española police say the interviews have been postponed because Apodaca and Trujillo have asked for additional time off to deal with the trauma and because the Española police union has not appointed legal representation for the officers.

This is highly irregular.  Read about it in The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Group Files For Release Of Mental Health AuditThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has renewed its request for the full release of an audit of 15 nonprofits that provided behavioral health services for needy New Mexicans.

In a motion Thursday, the groups asked District Court Judge Sarah Singleton of Santa Fe to order the state to make the report public, saying the New Mexico Attorney General's Office has had ample time to secure information for possible prosecution against any of the providers targeted. The Attorney General already has cleared two of the nonprofits.

The foundation filed suit last September after the attorney general and the state Human Services Department refused its request for the audit, which prompted Gov. Susana Martinez's administration to freeze Medicaid payments to the providers while the attorney general launched the probe.

GAO Asked To Study Communication On Tribal Lands - The Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and two of his congressional colleagues are pushing for the Government Accountability Office to study the current state of communication services in Native American communities.

Lujan, Democrat Anna Eshoo of California and Republican Don Young of Alaska sent a letter to the GAO this week. They say the digital divide persists perhaps nowhere more so than on tribal lands.

More than a decade ago, federal officials identified tribal lands as having less access to telecommunications services than any other segment of the population.

Lujan and the others say nearly one-third of households on tribal lands still lack basic phone service today and broadband availability in Indian Country is virtually nonexistent.