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Revised crime bill headed to governor

The Roundhouse

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The state House early Thursday agreed to the Senate amendments on an anti-crime package that would broaden the funding sources for community policing strategies and allow for stiffer penalties for some gun crimes.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for final approval.

The Senate approved the legislation 42-0 Wednesday, but with substantial revisions that required the bill to go back to the House.

The Senate version omits a section in the House bill that aimed to make it easier for police officers to get medical treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Critics of that section of the bill said it should be considered in separate legislation.

Senators didn’t necessarily sound enthusiastic about other parts of the crime bill either, suggesting it wouldn’t do enough to address Albuquerque’s high crime rate.

Nonetheless, the proposal won overwhelming approval.

“This bill doesn’t seek to address every single problem or every single issue,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, “but it does seek to attack some of the most important issues, as it relates to the violence involved in crime.”

The legislation would allow for stiffer sentences for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a crime and being a felon in possession of a gun. But it also adds some discretion, allowing judges to determine whether to enhance the penalty for crimes that involve the brandishing of a firearm.

The proposal would also allow the state’s law enforcement protection fund to be tapped for training and recruiting as part of efforts to carry out community-oriented policing strategies.

Unlike the House-approved legislation, however, the bill doesn’t include a section on police and PTSD. The House wanted to add PTSD to the list of conditions presumed to have been caused by their work as officers and require employers to provide medical treatment for it.

The House signed off on those changes early Thursday.

Senators didn’t sound enthusiastic about the bill Wednesday, even as it passed without a dissenting vote.

“This isn’t a crime package,” said Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque. “It’s about time we get serious.”

Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, put it this way: “Is this really the best we can do?”

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