NMiF Producer Megan Kamerick continues her conversation about the Albuquerque Police Department and encounters with people who have mental health problems. They talk about the training officers receive and the issues highlighted by the Department of Justice on the use of force against this population. They also discuss issues contributing to these confrontations, including a lack of supportive housing and other services, and whether these problems could be a catalyst to make things better.
This week on New Mexico in Focus, State Treasurer James B. Lewis will retire at the end of this month and we take this opportunity to talk with him about his nearly 40 years of public service in local, state and federal government. Lewis stepped in twice to the role of state treasurer to clean up the office following scandals, but he has also served as chief of staff to former Gov. Bruce King, chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque, city manager of Rio Rancho and assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy. Host Gene Grant talks with Lewis about his career, his plans and what he sees for the future of New Mexico.
The Line opinion panel discusses allegations against Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg. Albuquerque Police detectives told the Albuquerque Journal this week they believe they have probable cause to file felony charges against Brandenburg for allegedly violating the state law prohibiting bribery and intimidation of a witness in connection with burglary cases involving her 26-year-old son. Brandenburg denied she has violated the law and promises business as usual at the DA’s office. However, she said she may re-evaluate her role in personally reviewing the shooting of a mentally ill camper in the Sandia foothills in March by APD officers. Brandenburg was expected to make a decision soon on whether to pursue criminal charges against two officers in that case.
The Line will also discuss the possibility that a version of Kendra’s Law could be passed in New Mexico. A bill expected to go before lawmakers in the upcoming Legislative session would allow judges to order people who have a mental illness to take medication and undergo treatment if they are deemed a danger to themselves and their community. Supporters say it could help curtail hospital and jail costs. Opponents are concerned it has the potential to violate patients’ civil liberties.
And the Line will look at an investigation into how the University of New Mexico handles sexual assault cases. The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into what it termed “multiple complaints” over how UNM responds to allegations of sexual harassment and rape.
Host: Gene Grant
Guest: James B. Lewis, State Treasurer of New Mexico
The Co-Producers of NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS are Megan Kamerick and Sarah Gustavus. Associate Producer is Kathy Wimmer. Funding for this program was provided in part by the McCune Foundation Communications Fund, Santa Fe Community Foundation.
Episode 822 for air December 12, 2014