FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 19, 2013

Contact:
Marcela Diaz, 505-424-7832

New Mexico Civil Rights Groups Release Racial Profiling Report Card
Majority of local law enforcement agencies not compliant

ALBUQUERQUE--On Thursday, Somos Un Pueblo Unido and the New Mexico State Conference NAACP released a new report indicating that the majority of local law enforcement policies are not in basic compliance with the 2009 state law that bans racial profiling and other forms of bias-based policing.

The independent study,"Bias-Based Policing at a Glance:An Evaluation of Compliance with the "Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act of 2009," was funded by the Berkeley Law Center for Human Rights and was directed by 2011 Research Fellow Aimee Garza, PhD Candidate at the University of California at Santa Cruz. It evaluates whether the policies of municipal, county, and state agencies meet the basic requirements of the 2009 Act and it does an in-depth case study to identify specific areas of weakness requiring immediate remediation.

The initial review included all law enforcement agencies in the state (n = 97). Half of the agencies have a written policy on bias-based policing, but only a quarter of all the agencies surveyed have updated policies with a clear definition of bias-based policing and a list of all protected classes, as is required by the 2009 Act.  24% of the agencies surveyed do not have a written policy at all. And 25% refused to provide information about their policies after multiple verbal or written requests; a clear violation of the Act and potentially a violation of the Inspection of Public Records Act.

Thirty randomly selected agencies (20 municipal and 10 county) were evaluated on how well they conformed to the standards outlined in the Act and were given grades. Only two agencies met all of the criteria for full compliance, Santa Fe Police Department and Socorro County Sheriff’s Department, receiving an A grade. The average grade on the report card was a D. Specific areas of weakness were: 1) not making documents available to the public; 2) not including all of the protected classes; 3) not publishing information about their policy; and 5) not stating a timeframe for investigating or making complaints; and 6) prohibiting anonymous or third party complaints.

Sam Bone, President of the New Mexico NAACP said “Racial profiling is unconstitutional, socially corrupting, and counter-productive to smart and effective law enforcement. The NAACP supports national and state legislation that would address this insidious practice.  The implications of this report are very disappointing, and we encourage the Attorney General to make a strong effort to ensure that the anti-profiling law is carried out to the maximum.”

Thereport comes on the heels of the Supreme Court Decision regarding Arizona's SB 1070 and recent allegations that local law enforcement agencies from the Four Corners area are engaging in racial profiling practices at DWI checkpoints and routine traffic stops.

“While the politics of hate, exclusion and discrimination were brewing in other states, New Mexico took a stand in 2009.  The legislature handily approved the law that would send a message to our minority communities that profiling is not only wrong and un-American, but that it is bad policing and it makes us all less safe,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “The consensus was that strong anti-profiling policies, good training, and sensible accountability measures could help build trust between minority communities and law enforcement, protect civil rights, prevent costly lawsuits, and promote public safety.  This study shows that we still have a long way to go.” 

“Unfortunately, our criminal justice system continues to disproportionately impact people of color, and drug arrests are no exception,” said Olivia Belen Sloan, spokesperson for the New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance, one of the organizations instrumental in moving the 2009 legislation forward. “The passage of the profiling ban was a huge win for the people of New Mexico, representing an essential step towards greater fairness and accountability.  We are disheartened to learn that a significant proportion of the state’s police agencies are not in compliance. Our law enforcement cannot afford to lose the trust of the communities they serve. The people of New Mexico deserve better. “

The 2009 law expands protected classes beyond the more common racial profiling categories like race and ethnicity to include: religion, language, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and others. It also prohibits officers from relying on these characteristics to conduct an investigatory activity, including an interview or detention or in determining the scope, substance, or duration of a routine investigatory activity. 

Prior to the press conference, several statewide civil rights agencies met with New Mexico Attorney General Gary King to discuss the findings and make recommendations to ensure full compliance.

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Somos is a statewide civil and immigrants’ rights organization that worked with the NAACP and other groups to pass the Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act in 2009 at the Legislature.  New Mexico was the 23rd state to pass anti-racial profiling legislation.