New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is pushing to pass legislation granting legal immunity to the state’s police officers, in a what-could-possibly-go-wrong move that civil rights advocates are already saying may be unconstitutional.
Martinez, a Republican and former prosecutor, has said the legislation would essentially be a shield law for cops—if the actions take place while they’re on duty and are in accordance with their training—so that they won’t feel under the “constant threat of lawsuits that will often cause them to pause,” she told the Albuquerque Journal. (Heaven forbid a cop ever pauses.)
“This bill would protect citizens and law enforcement officers from the massive payouts that taxpayers are giving crooks and thieves who are hurt or injured by police officers who are doing their job,” Martinez added.
Those are interesting remarks, coming as they do in the wake of a settlement between Albuquerque, the state’s largest city, and the Department of Justice. The DOJ found that Albuquerque police engaged in a pattern of excessive—and deadly—force against the residents it’s charged with protecting. It also found that police too often used deadly force against people who posed a minor threat and used excessive force on people with mental disabilities.
With that in mind, it’s baffling that Martinez would want to give cops an even longer leash. Steven Robert Allen, the public policy director the the ACLU in New Mexico, told the newspaper that the legislation, which the governor is trying to push through in the upcoming 30-day legislative session, is deeply misguided.
“Standing up for officers who are using excessive force and violating the Constitution is exactly the wrong way to move,” he said.