Santa Fe, NM – The governor of New Mexico said she plans to present legislation that would grant legal immunity to law enforcement officers for the actions they take while in the line of duty, provided the officers followed training protocols.
“I don’t believe that police officers should be under this constant threat of lawsuits that will often cause them to pause,” Gov. Susana Martinez told the Albuquerque Journal. “If they’re following their training, there should be something that protects them.”
Not only would the bill help to shield officers in the performance of their job duties, but it would also help to protect taxpayers from potentially frivolous lawsuits, she said.
“This bill would protect citizens and law enforcement officers from the massive payouts that taxpayers are giving crooks and thieves who are hurt or injured by police officers who are doing their job,” Martinez said.
Currently, almost every time somebody is killed in a justified police shooting, the family the the dead suspect gets paid.
Martinez released her anti-crime legislative proposals on Jan. 8, Newsweek reported.
In addition to the police legal immunity bill, Martinez proposed penalty increases for certain crimes, as well as a reinstatement of the death penalty for criminals who kill children or law enforcement officers.
“New Mexicans have seen officers gunned down by thugs, and children killed by monsters,” she said in a statement, according to Newsweek. “It is time we say enough is enough. If you kill an officer or a child, you deserve the ultimate punishment.”
Law enforcement officers currently have qualified immunity, which means that citizens have to prove that an officer acted unconstitutionally for the officer to be held liable. Martinez’s legislation would offer additional immunity, Newsweek reported.
The Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) has expressed its support of the governor’s pro-police proposals, and noted that current social climate and fears of liability have negatively affected the number of people who chose to become public servants.
“We have a huge problem with trying to fill vacancies in police departments nationwide,” APOA president Shaun Willoughby told Newsweek. “This isn’t as an attractive job. Qualified immunity makes sense in the federal system. Why put yourself in this job when you have such a huge civil liability? This is an extension of that [immunity].”
New Mexico’s 30-day legislative session began on Jan. 11, the Albuquerque Journal reported.