Last week a newly appointed civil rights commission held its first meeting to discuss reforming provisions that protect New Mexico police officers from lawsuits against misconduct.
The Associated Press reports that the commission is led by former New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Richard Bosson and former federal prosecutor Mark Baker. The group was created during the special legislative session held in June as part of larger police reform efforts made by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state Legislature.
Qualified immunity protects officers from becoming the targets of civil lawsuits over misconduct. In recent weeks a number of states have moved forward with legislation banning qualified immunity following protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.
The new commission is consulting with the Legislature’s legal affairs office and state risk management officials and is set to present its findings and recommendations to the Legislature and governor in November before any action is taken.
Governor Considering More Reopenings
In a recent interview with KOB, Gov. Lujan Grisham said she might be willing to open up more of the state’s economy soon.
Last week the state reportedly met all the criteria set by the governor to allow the next phase of reopening to begin. When asked about the timeline for the next phase, Lujan Grisham said, “I think people should feel that in the next couple of weeks—three weeks—we want to introduce that next set of risks.”
The governor said she plans to make the initiation of in-person schooling a priority. “We're two and a half weeks into really doing better, we're close, so schools are my priority, I think they should be all of ours,” she said. “The rest of the country has not been successful in in-person learning in any context anywhere. … I'm still feeling very encouraged that some school districts will try this hybrid model.”
The current public health order expires this Friday, Aug. 28.
PED Chief: Online School Challenging
New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Ryan Stewart says the department is having trouble meeting the needs of some students during the pandemic.
During a recent interview with KOAT, Stewart said that the need for online learning has introduced new challenges to the PED. “We know that there are many students and families that don't have broadband,” he told a reporter. “We know that we have to get more devices out in the field.”
Stewart said about $40 million of CARES Act funding has been spent by the state to develop internet services for students. “We're still trying to find those individuals and have processes where they can dip into that fund to get devices and connectivity support as well,” he said.
Last week Albuquerque Public Schools board voted six to one to remain online-only through the rest of the fall semester. Stewart said each district has to make its own decision regarding the safety of returning to in-person education.