Tuesday News Roundup: Albuquerque Police Oversight Members Resign

Apr 15, 2014

Albuquerque Police Oversight Members Resign -  The Associated Press

Half of the members of Albuquerque's Police Oversight Commission have resigned, citing a lack of independence and inability to provide any real citizen oversight of the troubled department.

The resignations Tuesday by three members of the civilian review board comes less than a week after the Department of Justice issued a scathing report on what it called excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression at the department. Albuquerque officers have shot at 37 men since 2010, killing 23.

The report also criticized the city's oversight system and limited powers in investigating cases of questionable police conduct.

Oversight commission members Jennifer Barela, Jonathan Siegel and Richard Shine sent their letters of resignation to Mayor Richard Berry Tuesday. That leaves just three members on the nine-member panel, which had three vacancies.

Judge Orders Station To Surrender Full Interview The Associated Press

A judge in Santa Fe is ordering an Albuquerque television station to turn over raw video of its interview with a Farmington man who was shot when a title-loan company's workers tried to repossess his vehicle.

The civil case involves a lawsuit filed by Henry Clay, who was interviewed by KRQE-TV.

District Judge Sarah M. Singleton on Monday ordered the station to turn over unedited outtakes for use as evidence sought by the title-loan company, Community Loans of America. The company owns New Mexico Title Loans of New Mexico.

KRQE attorney Marty Esquivel argued that raw interview footage is privileged material that the station shouldn't have to surrender, but Singleton ruled that the information is relevant to Clay's credibility and can't be obtained from another means.


Gov. Martinez To Unveil New Veterans' Cemeteries The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has announced that Angel Fire, Carlsbad, Fort Stanton, and Gallup are being proposed as sites for new rural veterans' cemeteries in New Mexico.

At a news conference in Albuquerque Tuesday, Martinez said choosing the towns is a first step in an effort to provide new cemeteries closer to homes of veterans. She recently signed a bill aimed at providing $600,000 to plan, design, and construct regional veterans' cemeteries.

The move comes after a number of towns recently hosted community meetings on the need for small rural veterans' cemeteries in the state.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs, more than half of New Mexico's 170,000 veterans who live too far from the two existing national cemeteries in the state.

Santa Fe Mayor Proposes Stiffer Fines For Cell Use  The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican Santa Fe's mayor is proposing stiffer fines for people cited for using a cellphone while driving.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Mayor Javier Gonzales wants motorists who drive while using a cellphone to face a $200 fine.

That would be twice as much as the existing $100 fine.

The proposed fine would be $300 if the offense occurs in a school zone.

Gonzales says the city needs to do its part in combating distracted driving.

Municipal Court records indicate Santa Fe police issued 478 citations for cellphone violations last year.


NM Water Issues To Be Hammered Out At Town Hall - The Associated Press

State officials, business leaders and others from around New Mexico are gathering for a two-day town hall to hammer out a series of recommendations on water use and policy.

The meeting starts Tuesday in Albuquerque. Participants are focusing on the state's aging water infrastructure, conservation and planning for crisis situations.

New Mexico is entering its fourth consecutive year of severe drought following a winter that was among the driest on record. The drought reached unprecedented levels last summer and nearly 70 percent of the state is still in the grips of severe drought with little promise for moisture.

New Mexico has been able to weather the drought through piecemeal responses such as temporary water-sharing agreements and watering restrictions, but town hall organizers say solutions should be more comprehensive and coordinated.

New Drug Tip Hotline Launched In Santa Fe - The Associated Press

A new tip hotline aimed at fighting drug trafficking in Santa Fe is now up and running.

Santa Fe police and other officials launched his week a 24/7 drug tip hotline authorities hope will help reduce heroin in the region.

The Regional Emergency Communication Center will handle incoming calls and the hotline will carry a distinctive ring so police will know about an incoming drug tip.

Officials say an officer will be dispatched to the reported location immediately depending on the activity. Tips will also be forwarded to the department's investigations unit and examined to help build bigger cases.

New Mexico High Court Orders Tribal Recognition - The Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court has ordered Gov. Susana Martinez to recognize the Fort Sill Apache as a New Mexico tribe.

The state Supreme Court unanimously made the decision Monday after hearing from lawyers in the case.

Tribal chairman Jeff Haozous told reporters after the ruling that state recognition will give the Apaches a "seat at the table" with New Mexico's other 22 tribes and pueblos.

The governor must invite the tribe to a yearly tribal-state summit.

The federal government designated a 30-acre parcel in southern New Mexico as the tribe's reservation in 2011, but the Apache governmental offices are in Oklahoma.

There's a restaurant and smoke shop on the land near Deming, but tribal efforts to open a casino have been blocked. The tribe acquired the land in 1998.