I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Domestic violence bill bounced back to committee
HB 17, a bill that would prevent convicted domestic violence offenders from becoming police officers and would remove certification from current officers convicted of domestic violence crimes, is being sent back to the House Judiciary Committee, where it saw a heated and dramatic debate last Friday.
Rep. Nathan Cote, the bill’s co-sponsor, offered an amendment to the bill that would define domestic violence nearer to that of SB 2, which narrows the definition of “household member” to “spouse, former spouse, parent, present or former stepparent, present or former parent in-law, grandparent, grandparent-in-law, a co-parent of a child or a person with whom a person has had a continuing personal relationship.” The re-definition would strike family member or relative from the definition.
At Friday’s hearing both Reps Kintigh and Rehm expressed concerns that the current definition was too broad and used the example of an altercation between brothers as one that would fall under current domestic violence crimes. Kintigh and Rehm, both former law enforcement officers, protested the possibility of an officer losing his job due to such an altercation.
Kintigh, who along with Rehm, and Reps. Bandy and White, walked out of Friday’s Judiciary Committee meeting in an attempt to block a vote on the bill, praised Cote’s amendment saying it was “an excellent amendment” and offering his support. However, Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Al Park made a motion to send the bill back to Judiciary saying, “this is not what was approved by judiciary,” a motion to which Cote agreed.
HB 17 is Cote’s second attempt to pass this domestic violence legislation into law. Last year his HB 33 passed unanimously through House and Senate Public Affairs and Judiciary Committees before being postponed before a final vote.
The move to reexamine the bill comes just one day after the Albuquerque Journal reported the filing of a tort claim against the city of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Police Department for the inappropriate display of nude photographs confiscated from the home of a woman who called police about a domestic disturbance.
The lawsuit harkens to the concerns of many domestic violence advocates who warn that women fear calling law enforcement in cases of domestic violence and that bills similar to the one Cote is trying to pass will make victims safer. At Friday’s hearing Rep. Antonio Maestas raised concerns about law enforcement officers’ partners saying, “If I’m a cadet and if I’m abusive, is my victim less likely or more likely to call someone to intervene?” to which Cote responded “I think they’d be more likely to call” if this legislation were passed.
Though a federal law, the The Gun Control Act, exists that prohibits persons who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing fire arms, the New Mexico law would cover crimes not covered in the federal law, including stalking and property damage.
HB 17 would only prohibit offenders from becoming or retaining their certification for three years and a 2000 study cited by the American Bar Association states “41 percent of participants reported that the men committed a re-assault during the 30-month follow-up period,” and “early 2/3 of the first time re-assaults occurred in the first 6 months.”