Eddy County Sheriff's Office Calls for Body Camera Funding After State Mandate

July 23, 2020
Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 8, which was passed last month during a special session of the New Mexico Legislature, requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras.

A law signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham nearly three weeks ago may cost Eddy County taxpayers more money, according to Sheriff Mark Cage.

Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 8, which was passed last month during a special session of the New Mexico Legislature, requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras.

A press release issued by Lujan Grisham's office said the body cameras would act as a deterrent against unlawful use of force and establishing strengthened accountability measures in instances of inappropriate excessive force by law enforcement.

Cage told the Eddy County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday the cameras are going to add more scrutiny to the Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s going to be in the county’s best interest, my best interest to make a few changes at the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.

The measure sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes (31) passed the Senate 31-11 and the House 44-26 in the New Mexico Legislature's June special session and applies to city police, county sheriff’s agencies as well as state police and the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the press release stated.

More: Southeast New Mexico law enforcement works to adapt to police body camera mandate

Cage said the Office is still determining the imposed additional costs, and  preparing a list for commissioners to provide more funds for multiple items to meet the new state mandate, including software.

“We’re going to have to have software redacting video, because we can’t release video the way it is and we’re going to get a lot of requests for it,” he said.

Law enforcement agencies must maintain the body camera footage for at least 120 days, per the law. Police who interfere with the devices or otherwise flout the camera requirement could face penalties for withholding evidence, per the release.

More: Southeast New Mexico lawmakers still worried for budget deficit as special session concludes

Along with the new software, Cage said the Sheriff’s Office could be looking at new use of force training.

“We’re going to have to invest a little money in it as a County. When we get sued we’re going to show that we go the extra mile to make sure our folks are better trained than anybody else,” he said.

More: New laws needed to help police the police

Cage said he didn’t have the money laid out in his original budget request.

“No one could have anticipated this. I’ll be coming and visiting you about that,” he said.

Commissioners approve fire fund transfer

A transfer to move $150,000 for the purchase of a new fire truck for the La Huerta Volunteer Fire Department was approved by the commission.

Eddy County Fire Services Director Joshua Mack said $300,000 was budgeted for future buildings for La Huerta, but some of those dollars would instead be used for the truck.

He said the money was originally going to be used for architecture work.

“We were looking at building them a new facility. Due to the financial situation, we decided replacing one of their engines was a better priority and more reasonable purchase,” he said.

Mack said transferring the money allows the La Huerta department to have enough money on hand to purchase the new fire engine.

More: Eddy County volunteer fire department gets modern upgrade for northern rural areas

“It’s already budgeted funds, we need to move it from one-line item to the other,” he said.  

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter. 

This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Eddy County Sheriff's Office calls for body camera funding after state mandate


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