ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office reached a settlement last week in a police-profiling case filed by the ACLU on behalf of Federal Agent Sherese Crawford in December, 2017. The then 38-year-old African-American agent sued BCSO after she was pulled over on three separate occasions, twice by the same deputy, while on temporary assignment in New Mexico.
“This settlement is a victory for our client — an accomplished federal agent who was targeted for driving while black,” said ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Leon Howard. “We hope BCSO learns from this lawsuit and takes immediate measures to ensure that deputies do not continue to humiliate and frighten people of color who are just trying to get from one place to the next in our state.”
The BCSO sheriffs who pulled Crawford over did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion that she was breaking the law. None of the three times she was pulled over was she given a warning or a citation.
On February 10, after the case settled, Howard sent a letter to BCSO Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, encouraging him to require implicit bias training for all deputies and to allow a qualified professional to review all departmental policies and procedures to ensure they are free of bias and promote cultural humility.
“Targeting people because of the color of their skin is not only unconstitutional, it’s just bad policing,” said Howard. “BCSO has demonstrated a dangerous practice of racial profiling that has damaged the public’s trust in deputies. To restore that trust, they’ll need to show a serious commitment to unbiased policing.”
A copy of the letter is available below.