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Bill to exempt the use police body-cams in certain situations gets "do-pass"

Gino Gutierrez
Legislation that would allow police officers around New Mexico certain exemptions to the use of their body-worn cameras is past its first Senate Committee.

Senate Bill 368, which is sponsored by Senator Harold Pope, would allow law enforcement officers to suspend the recording on their body cameras in situations that involve notifying a member of the public of a death, the conduction of an undercover investigation sanctioned by a law enforcement agency and operations involving the recovery and disposal to render safe and disassemble of an explosive or incendiary device.

The only exemption listed that garnered some scrutiny was the one involving undercover investigations.

Members of the committee raised some concerns about the language the bill used and what defined an undercover investigation.

A member of New Mexico’s ACLU also cited the possibility of this exemption being used as a loophole by law enforcement agencies.

One of Senator Pope’s expert witnesses, Commander Aaron Jones of the Albuquerque Police Department shared his insight on what sets an undercover operation apart.

“The distinction is that there is going to be an investigation. An undercover investigation is tasked with continuing a criminal investigation where law enforcement is needed to create an on-going relationship with someone who is subject of that criminal organization or a crime that is being investigated.”

When asked if he would like an amendment adding such language to the bill, Pope said he would work on additions to it when it got to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill was passed by Senate Health and Public Affairs on a 5-0 vote.

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, he found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in multimedia journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. In addition to working at KSFR, Gino is a freelance photojournalist and can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the NA3HL New Mexico Ice Wolves.