By Wesley Waller and Malin Parker
Guest columnists 

Opinion: Legislation aims to make law enforcement the enemy


Last updated 2/23/2021 at 4:04pm

This legislative session is bringing real change to New Mexico, but not the kind we think New Mexicans are looking for.

This session has brought to the table several bills squarely aimed at making law enforcement the enemy of the people, while simultaneously introducing other bills that are designed to lift the burden on the criminal.

House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 227 are examples of this detrimental proposed legislation. How and why is this happening? Why would legislators in one of the most violent states in the country choose to empower the criminal element while trying to destroy law enforcement? Is that what their constituents want? We doubt it since every citizen we encounter wants to know what we can do to protect their home, their business, and the children of this state.

This can only be the result of national rhetoric, which was the result of a bad officer doing the wrong thing thousands of miles away. It has nothing to do with policing in New Mexico.

These legislators did not take time to consult with law enforcement before drafting these bills. The law enforcement profession isn’t against reform or change, but we would like to be part of the conversation. We would like to be included, consulted, and questioned by the Legislature to assist with better informed legislation.

We support smart and effective reform, like Senate Bill 375 that provides training in de-escalation and mental health.

The people of New Mexico might want reform of law enforcement, but we do not believe they want their officers made out to be the criminals while the real criminals are emboldened to continue their plight on society. Sadly, if these anti-law enforcement bills pass, that’s what we will get: officers with their hands tied and unable to do the work they need to do to keep us safe.

Police service dogs and many of the less-lethal tools that greatly reduce lethal encounters with law enforcement will be outlawed. Other new legislation will reduce the minimum sentencing for child molesters and rapists (House Bill 140).

If these legislators, primarily from the Rio Grande corridor, get their way, our state will be facing higher crime and more violent criminal encounters with less law enforcement to protect the public. Recruitment and retention of quality law enforcement officers will greatly suffer. Why would law enforcement professionals choose to stay and live in a state that has vilified them while coddling criminals? They won’t. They will choose states that support law enforcement or change professions.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what some legislators want. That’s how they plan to defund law enforcement in New Mexico. Officers will choose to leave due to a lack of support and over-the-top reform. We ask: is that really what we want for our state? If not, please tell the Legislature you do not agree. We should be penalizing the criminals, not our cops.

Wesley Waller is Curry County sheriff. Malin Parker is Roosevelt County sheriff.


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