SANTA FE — Spurred by the police murder of George Floyd and subsequent worldwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Wednesday that police reform would be included at the special session.
The session began at noon on Thursday. Notably missing from the Governor’s call was a House bill that would have reformed police misconduct investigations.
State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas said the bill would have changed a state law that makes investigating police misconduct more difficult.
That law, the Peace Officer's Employer-Employee Relations Act, includes provisions detailing the rights of officers being investigated by their superiors. The law states that an officer under investigation should be informed of the nature of the investigation, and they should be provided with the names of all complainants unless the chief administrator of the officer's employer decides otherwise.
The law also allows officers to dispute negative comments being added to their personnel files.
"It's not about the good cop or bad cop dynamic," Maestas said. "It's whether, as an institution, cops are held accountable for misconduct."
In their contracts, a number of police unions track the language in state law, Maestas told the New Mexico Political Report.
The contract between the University of New Mexico and the UNM Police Department union, for instance, includes provisions giving University police officers under investigation all the same rights and privileges provided by the Peace Officer's Employer-Employee Act.
UNMPD's contract also includes a provision which states, "In the event it is determined that a complainant falsified their statement, UNM or the officer being investigated may take whatever action they deem appropriate."
"Barriers to accountability don't belong in a union contract, much less state statute," Maestas said.
As of the publication of this article, Gov. Lujan Grisham hadn't placed the bill on the call, meaning it's unlikely to be heard during the special session.
Proposals banning chokeholds and requiring police officers to wear lapel cameras are also expected to be addressed but have not yet been introduced.