It’s no wonder that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently appointed Jason Bowie, then serving as deputy chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department, as secretary of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.
To help prevent the violent incidents we have seen around the country, the RRPD has taken positive steps to improve procedures. If only other departments could follow RRPD’s example, we could stop the police actions that resulted in death and injury for so many, including George Floyd.
In extraordinary transparency, RRPD posts its nearly 400-page Standards and Procedures Manual on its website for citizens to learn what to expect from their RRPD. RRPD emphasizes the value and importance of each human life and trains all officers in use-of-force standards, including de-escalation and less-lethal measures.
Every officer has a duty to intervene to prevent or stop unreasonable use of force. RRPD also trains officers to recognize individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities, and on crisis intervention and de-escalation tactics.
RRPD requires that prisoners be handcuffed behind the back, and not be left lying face down or in one position longer than reasonably necessary to gain control. RRPD officers are not to restrain prisoners so that the prisoner cannot sit upright.
RRPD’s officers activate body-worn cameras in the field, and procedures for public release of recordings have been established. Officers are instructed to respect the First Amendment rights of citizens to record police activity and may not attempt to intimidate or discourage individuals from recording.
Importantly, all complaints, even anonymous complaints of misconduct, are reviewed and investigated as appropriate. Let’s hope that Secretary Bowie can spread the forward-looking policies and procedures practiced by RRPD around the state.
Thank you for the great appointment, Governor!
Letter to the Observer: Bowie an excellent choice for state public safety secretary