Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798
(Santa Fe) — Late last night, the House Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 1 in favor of a bill to prohibit bias-based profiling, or racial profiling, in New Mexico. HB 428, the Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act, sponsored by Representative Cote (D-Las Cruces) passed the Committee after considerable debate.
“I was a victim of racial profiling, and I don’t want to see other people be profiled by police in this way,” said Jean Paul Fontana, a resident of Santa Fe who testified in favor of the bill.
The legislation officially defines and bans bias-based profiling in New Mexico, and directs law enforcement agencies to develop policies, procedures, and training protocols to prevent and prohibit profiling from occurring.
“Officially banning bias-based profiling in New Mexico will send the message to communities that policing must be rooted in fairness and equality,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance NM. “We are one of the most diverse states in the nation, and we must do all we can to protect that diversity.”
The NM NAACP and 18 other local organizations, including Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, the NM Conference of Churches, Equality New Mexico, the Immigration Committee of the City of Santa Fe, Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE), and Tewa Women United, support the legislation.
“We have great respect for law enforcement and we would never support anything that would tie the hands of our law enforcement officers,” said Holly Beaumont, legislative advocate for the New Mexico Conference of Churches. “Nothing ties the hands of law enforcement faster than losing the trust of the communities they serve. One of the quickest ways you shatter trust with your communities is through racial profiling.”
The bill now heads to the House floor, and for the first time in state history, the House of Representatives will vote for a bill to officially prohibit bias-based profiling in New Mexico. 22 states have enacted legislation banning racial profiling.