For the last few years in a row, New Mexico has alternated between having the highest and second highest rates of police killings in the country. In 2020, we topped the list, coming in at number one. Our current laws governing use of force have failed to protect communities. Officers here can use deadly force even when it is not absolutely necessary for their safety or the safety of others and when alternatives have not been exhausted. This has resulted in heartbreak and tragedy for so many in our communities, especially people of color, who are disproportionately the victims of police violence.
This use of force legislation is a groundbreaking bill that would make New Mexico’s use of force law the strongest in the nation. With this bill, we have a historic opportunity to turn the tide on police violence and ensure that officers prioritize the sanctity of human life. This is a common-sense bill that will change the standard for use of force to “necessary,” ensuring that officers cannot use physical force upon another person unless the officer has exhausted de-escalation tactics and that such force is proportionate and necessary to prevent an imminent threat of harm to an identifiable person.