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NM delegation all backed House police reform bill

The three members of New Mexico’s U.S. House delegation voted in favor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on Thursday, which passed with a 236-181 vote.

“While more work must still be done, this legislation takes important steps by increasing accountability, banning dangerous chokeholds and no-knock warrants, requiring body and dashboard cameras, and investigating police misconduct,” U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján said in a statement.

In a floor speech before the vote, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland called the bill “a beacon of hope to victims of the systemic racism that plagues our criminal justice system.”

“This bill envisions a new model of public safety that works to end racial bias, promotes de-escalation training instead of militarization, and is built on community trust, transparency and accountability,” she said.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small said the legislation “raises the bar on accountability.”

“Congress took an important step towards addressing systemic racism by establishing the accountability measures communities across the country need,” she said in a statement.

But Torres Small wanted to make it clear that she did not support defunding police.

“The fight for real reform does not end with this vote, and that includes making sure rural law enforcement has a seat at the table,” she said.

Luján called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to put the House bill on the floor in that chamber for a vote.

It is the companion bill to the one introduced by California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, which is co-sponsored by New Mexico Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. It will likely face opposition from the Republican majority.

Heinrich and Udall voted to block a Republican police reform bill on Wednesday, which contained similar measures to parts of the House bill.

But the House bill modifies qualified immunity that would make it easier to bring lawsuits against officers in cases of misconduct and would make it easier for cases of misconduct to be prosecuted. The Republican Senate bill did not.

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