Las Cruces Metropolis Council to vote on police auditor, civil rights invoice

LAS CRUCES – The city council will spend its regular session on February 16 deliberating on coronavirus aid, qualified immunity and police reform.

City councils will not meet on Monday due to the President’s holidays.

New police examiner could be approved

On Tuesday, Las Cruces city council could approve a new contract with an independent police accounting firm called the OIR Group, based in Playa del Rey, California.

The city has not had an independent police auditor since August 2019, when the contract with Massachusetts-based Public Safety Strategies Group expired.

The task of the independent auditor was to review the results of the department’s internal investigations into misconduct and use of force by the police and to determine their correctness and completeness. The auditor’s task is to regularly submit his results to the city council.

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The city was looking for a candidate with “thorough knowledge of police operations, procedures and performance standards” and a company that had experience performing statistical analysis, auditing internal investigations and presenting the results in an easily understandable manner to the council and the public .

The contract proposed by OIR has a term of one year and the option to extend the contract for up to four additional one-year terms. The contract stipulates that the company will receive no more than $ 75,000 per year.

Qualified immunity from the council

The city will also decide whether it will be the youngest local government to oppose the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, and it could turn down another Senate police reform law.

The city council will vote on a resolution against the Civil Rights Act, House Bill 4, that would allow New Mexicans to pursue civil rights claims against government agencies, including law enforcement, in a state court and end qualified immunity as a defense against those claims.

Proponents argue that qualified immunity has been used to protect police officers from accountability when they have violated someone’s rights.

The city’s resolution argues that the bill, if incorporated into the law, would result in expensive lawsuits and divert resources to cover the city’s “potential liability”. The resolution also argues that HB 4 does not contain or would achieve police reform.

The Doña Ana County Commission voted against HB 4 at its February 9 meeting.

More:Legislative Notebook: The NMSP union president accuses lawmakers of “attacking law enforcement”.

While the resolution argues that police reform should be preferred to increased litigation, the resolution would also oppose a law on police reform in the Senate.

Senate Bill 227, introduced by Senator Linda Lopez, Albuquerque, would prohibit police from using force until all other de-escalation tactics are exhausted. The bill would also ban chokeholds, rubber bullets, tear gas, and the use of dogs to bite suspects. It also contains new reporting requirements for the use of force and prohibits no-knock warrants.

“The use of force (in SB 227) is regulated in such a way that it is assumed that it will worsen the legal disputes considerably,” says the city’s resolution. The city also argues that it has implemented many positive reforms and practices at its own request, such as “empathy training” for virtual reality, crisis intervention training using government standards and early intervention systems to identify potential “problem officers”.

While Las Cruces Police Department said chokeholds were never allowed, they banned vascular neck braces after Antonio Valenzuela was killed by police.

The city argues that both bills could make the community uninsurable by increasing the potential for massive claims payoff.

More help

Finally, the city council will vote on Tuesday to approve additional $ 977,000 pandemic aid, provided from the city’s Telshor Facility Fund, primarily to help with food distribution and housing assistance.

The city has already provided more than $ 3.25 million in economic aid for coronavirus from the fund since last spring.

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The city council will also vote on the reuse of $ 100,000 in Telshor Fund monies previously allocated. If passed, $ 50,000 allocated to the Community Action Agency in southern New Mexico could be used to help families with funeral expenses, and an additional $ 50,000 could be used to fund the COVID to Home Program of the district.

The meeting will be streamed live on YouTube at and will also be broadcast on Comcast cable channel 20 and on from 1 p.m. onwards

Michael McDevitt is a city and county government reporter for Sun News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, [email protected], or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.

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