Who should investigate or prosecute controversial police use of force and shootings? That’s a problem that comes up in law enforcement departments everywhere. A bill introduced during this legislative session tries to address it, but the measure’s being hamstrung by this year’s budget crunch.
District attorneys in New Mexico work side-by-side with police officers to prosecute criminals. Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque) said communities don't often feel that they get a fair investigation after a police shooting. "So there really isn’t an independent entity that has the full authority to be the citizens’ third-party eye in these incidents," she said.
Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero says the high number of people killed or hurt by police pushed her to try to find a broad solution. She sponsored a bill that would turn those local cases over to a division under the state’s attorney general.
There’ve been some high-profile shootings in recent years, but because the bill asks for funds—and because no new spending will likely be approved this year—Roybal Caballero said it probably won’t move forward. She plans to keep working on the problem in future sessions.
The People, Power and Democracy project examines ethics, transparency and accountability in state government. The project is funded by the Thornburg Foundation and by contributions from KUNM listeners.