The president of the New Mexico State Police Association is accusing Democratic lawmakers of pursuing legislation he says would give criminals more rights than police and take away tools that officers need to safely do their jobs.
“One of the things that needs to be said is the attack on law enforcement by our current legislators,” Sgt. Jose Carrasco, president of the union representing state police officers, said in a 15-minute video to legislators and New Mexico residents.
“When you have senators and representatives personally attacking law enforcement, creating laws that basically tie our hands, so we can’t enforce the laws, we can’t protect ourselves, we can’t protect the citizens, something finally has to be said,” Carrasco said in the video, which was posted Monday on YouTube and already has received more than 2,300 views — a number that is climbing hourly.
“I know it’s going to upset some people,” he said.
Carrasco pointed to three specific pieces of legislation, starting with Senate Bill 227, which is sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. He noted the bill is called the “inspection of police misconduct investigation” but said the title is misleading.
“It’s taking the tools away from us, our less lethal option tools, to be able to effect an arrest peacefully and without having to use any deadly force,” he said. “However, [Sen.] Lopez is taking that that ability away from us.”
The measure would prohibit law enforcement officers from using force unless they had first tried all possible deescalation efforts. It would also ban the use of rubber bullets and chokeholds, and says officers “shall not direct a dog to bite a person.”
“We can’t even use a canine anymore, like at all,” Carrasco said. “They’ve taken all the tools that we use to go in there and hopefully take the people or person into custody without having to use lethal force. You’re taking that away from us. I hope, I hope and I pray that I can at least have a fighting chance and have my ballistic vest on when I go into the residence. I hope that we can still do that.”
Carrasco warned lawmakers that “it’s going to be the criminals using deadly force on the officers that are trying to enforce your laws that you wrote.”
Carrasco also took issue with House Bill 4, which would prohibit “qualified immunity” as a defense to legal claims filed against government agencies and allow people to file lawsuits in state courts over violations of their constitutional rights.
“There are bad senators, bad representatives, bad doctors, bad priests, bad nurses. There’s bad in every single profession. But yet, we’re the ones that get picked on nonstop,” he said.
Carrasco also took a direct aim at the sponsor, House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, who noted the death of a state police officer last week following a news conference.
“One thing that I wanted to tell you, Mr. Egolf, and I wish I could tell you face to face, is that my brothers and sisters do not appreciate you making a comment about our brother at all,” Carrasco said, referring to Egolf’s comments shortly after the fatal shooting of Officer Darian Jarrott near Deming.
“It wasn’t even heartfelt,” Carrasco said. “We would just wish that you … just didn’t say anything about our fallen brother because he’s one of the ones that you’re trying to take rights away from, too.”
Finally, Carrasco raised concerns about a controversial bill that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for a number of crimes — including criminal sexual penetration of a minor.
“So somebody that commits a rape on a child, they want to remove the minimum sentence, and there’s other heinous crimes in there,” he said, referring to House Bill 140.
“As the laws stand right now, some of these people that commit some horrendous crimes are … out in the street before we even leave the parking of the jail,” Carrasco added. “This only makes it worse when the minimum sentences are being removed and the criminals are allowed to go back in the street to continue their life of crime, continue victimizing our families, breaking into their homes, stealing their cars, stealing their identity, committing all kinds of crimes, killing, murdering people.”
Carrasco urged New Mexico residents to contact their lawmakers and tell them to “stand by law enforcement.”
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.
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