H.B. 227 (Revised)

Yesterday I posted regarding New Mexico House Bill 227, a "police reform" bill that read more like an amateur's attempt at a rules & regulations manual with obvious overtones of anti-police measures. I took the post down within hours of publishing it after discovering that the version I commented on is the original N.M. House version which had since been "watered down" to some degree after lawmakers had a chance to review it and passed it on to the Senate.


Some of the concerns? The author of the bill wanted to eliminate police K9 that bite; make cops wait 45 seconds before entering an abode on a search warrant; disallow police use of military-type weapons (and equipment) at a search warrant without defining what those were; make police justify the actual number of personnel at a search warrant; elimination of "no-knock" warrants; and contained language regarding existing statute and case law that was inconsistent and vague, among other issues.


You can read the concerns before the Senate here:

https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/21%20Regular/firs/SB0227.PDF


In my opinion, the primary issue as this bill stands is established case law known as Graham vs. Connor. You can read about it here:

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/490/386/


The essence of Graham vs. Connor is whether officers accused of excessive force were acting objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances facing them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. It is a 1989 case, and a short but interesting read. Above and beyond that, it brings up concerns regarding a portion of what the writer of House Bill 227 is trying to force on New Mexico law enforcement.


I also disagree completely with the H.B. 227 demand that any law enforcement officer who uses force must be identified by ethnicity and gender. The ethnicity demand is nothing more than race baiting, and forces officers to reveal personal information that is irrelevant to the arrest. Let's say the officer has an Anglo name because of an Anglo father, but a Hispanic mother, and add to the mix that the officer has a bloodline that includes Native American, African-American or Asian ethnicity. Why should that officer be forced to expose that information? Cops don't ask people their ethnicity when they stop them, that would be unlawful, so why are cops being forced to reveal that personal information? What's next, a demand that all officers register with Ancestry.com?


And what does gender have to do with any of this? What comes after that, a demand that officers declare their sexuality?


This is nothing short of profiling by the state. What the writers of the bill want you to believe is that their motivations are altruistic. They are trying to convince us that they only want to track officers who use unreasonable force on a regular basis and attempt to identify patterns of abuse based on the ethnicity of suspects. What they really want to do is build up a database against every cop that lays his hands on someone who is resisting arrest, and then use that information to seek termination of the officer. If you think it won't be used as ammunition in criminal and civil liability cases, think again.


Suspects often resist arrest, especially when they've been drinking and doping. Some resist more violently than others, but under this bill every twisted wrist and arm, every push and shove against a shoulder or back when a suspect tries to come off a patrol car or building wall, every grab of a suspect attempting to flee, every impression of handcuffs on the flesh of a wrist, every scrape and bruise, is going to be labeled "excessive force" and tallies will be built up. The word gets around in criminal circles and they will begin filing excessive force complaints ad nauseam if this nonsense passes. Believe it or not, suspects have been known to make up stories of excessive force just to get cops in trouble. I know, I investigated some of those complaints during my time.


I don't have an issue with bad apples in law enforcement being terminated. But this method is not the answer. The supporters of this bill want you to believe that law enforcement agencies do nothing about the problem children in their ranks, and I can tell you from 22 years experience in the LCPD that is not true. I saw bad cops get the axe and they deserved it. I've also seen some that were sacrificed for the sake of political correctness. And that is what this bill is, political correctness personified.


If you are a citizen of New Mexico, you should be concerned about this anti-police bill before the Senate. Please, email or phone your district senators and make your feelings known before they vote. The anti-police sentiment voiced by a vocal minority in this state has got to be stopped.


List of NM legislators:

https://www.nmlegis.gov/members/find_my_legislator

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