NM to loosen ‘restrictions’ on cops

New training an overreaction to a nonexistent threat

Mike Scanlon

Rio Grande Digital | Commentary

In New Mexico — a state now famous for its anal-probing cops who force enemas and colon exams on innocent people — the police are likely to become even more aggressive with a new training program devised by a retired military officer.

Mike Scanlon

Mike Scanlon

This comes at a time when social media networks and news media brim with stories of police overreaction — fatal shootings of suspects, bystanders and family pets among them

And when the police do get called out for actions, their superiors dismiss complaints by saying something like, “The officers acted in accordance with their training.” And that’s that. End of story.

Apparently, however, the man in charge of deciding how police are trained in New Mexico wants to ease restrictions on how police interact with the public. The revelation was made recently in a news story that went largely unnoticed in the Land of Enchantment.

The changes come even as the US Department of Justice is investigating the Albuquerque Police Department for allegations it uses excessive deadly force.

The news report was carried by the Associated Press and published  more by out-of-state media than in-state. It is short on details, but it makes abundantly clear that New Mexico cops are poised to become more aggressive in their dealings with taxpayers.

It quotes Jack Jones, director of the state’s Law Enforcement Academy, whose stellar rise among New Mexico law enforcers has put him in charge of crafting and implementing new training for police:

“Evil has come to the state of New Mexico. Evil has come to the Southwest. Evil has come to the United States.”

Oh, please. We call BS on that. Since the 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, local, state and federal officials have used fear of terrorism to erode citizens’ Constitutional rights. The Patriot Act, the US Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency’s blanket spying on just about every human being on the planet all came from the 9/11 episode.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I have only to recall the ridiculous spectacle of martial law that followed the Boston Marathon bombings to understand where this expanding police state will take us.

So Jones, a retired Army colonel, is revamping police training in New Mexico to “include more training in traffic stops involving gunfire and the use of possibly deadly force. He is basing his use-of-force techniques on a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found an officer can use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect if the officer feels that person could commit serious physical injury or even kill someone,” according to the article.

Jones became the police academy’s deputy director last year and promptly was promoted to the position of director. “Then last fall, the academy’s eight-member board unanimously voted to give Jones the sole authority to design the training curriculum,” the news article says.

The problem is that Jones’s background is in the military, not law enforcement. While it might be easy to draw parallels between the police and military — both carry firearms and wear uniforms — the contrast, in reality, is stark.

Police are a community-based force. They are neighbors and often friends of the people they serve. The vast majority of their constituents are peaceful, law-abiding people who want to be able to depend on the police for help when they need it.

In the military, training focuses on “the enemy.” Troops are taught to dehumanize the enemy lest they would hesitate to pull the trigger. Their performance cannot be hindered by empathy or compassion. They fight wars, annihilate enemies.

This is not a partisan issue. New Mexico’s governor is a Republican former prosecutor who has a concealed carry permit and whose husband is a retired police officer. But chairman of the Law Enforcement Academy board — which unanimously gave Jones the carte blanche to revise training — is New Mexico’s Democrat attorney general, the heir to a longstanding Democratic political dynasty in the state. Most of those on the board are law enforcers.

The little-noticed news article also notes the irony of the timing for implementing new training.

“The new training comes as the Albuquerque Police Department is under a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation. The department is facing allegations of excessive force and three dozen shootings by officers since 2010.”

As all this unfolds over the coming months and years, New Mexicans likely will follow our tradition of hoping for the best. But we also should be prepared for the worst. And we should be planning our response. Check back here for more about that later on.

Mike Scanlon is editor and publisher of Rio Grande Digital. Comments and opposing viewpoints are always welcome.

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