District attorneys from around New Mexico are working on a statewide policy for investigating and prosecuting shootings by law enforcement, Andrew Oxford reports in today’s Santa Fe New Mexican.
It’s the second action taken by public officials since the Santa Fe New Mexican and New Mexico In Depth published a story that examined the challenges inherent in investigating and prosecuting fatal law enforcement shootings.
Last week Attorney General Hector Balderas announced he had created a committee to audit how each law enforcement agency around the state reviews the use of deadly force by its officers.
On Monday Balderas announced he was collaborating “with the New Mexico District Attorney’s Association on its effort to standardize what is currently a patchwork of often-unwritten protocols across 13 judicial districts when it comes to police shootings,” Oxford reports.
Oxford writes that police in New Mexico have fatally shot 41 people since January 2015, more people per capita than in any other state, according to The New Mexican’s analysis of data maintained by The Washington Post.
The review by New Mexico In Depth and The New Mexican found a patchwork of policies in how police and prosecutors across the state investigate shootings by police officers. The policies are sometimes unwritten and depend on the discretion of officials. In the end, officers are often left investigating colleagues in their own department and prosecutors find themselves weighing charges against the very people they rely upon in other cases.