Three years after New Mexico took a stand against racial profiling and bias-based policing by passing a law called the Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act of 2009 which prohibited the practice, it turns out that a mere fraction of police agencies across the state are barely complying with the terms of the law. That’s what Somos Un Pueblo Unido and the New Mexico State Conference NAACP found in a new report they released Thursday.
The review conducted by the groups found that when it came to meeting basic requirements for the law, just two agencies out of the state’s 97 could say they were in compliance. The findings elsewhere were disappointing, as well, according to a press release:
The initial review included all law enforcement agencies in the state (n = 97). Half of the agencies have a written policy on biased-based policing, but less than a quarter (22%) of all the agencies surveyed have updated policies with a clear definition of biased-based policing and listed all of the protected classes, as is required by the 2009 Act. 33% of the agencies surveyed do not have a written policy at all. And 24% refused to provide information about their policies after multiple verbal or written requests; a clear violation of the Act and potentially, the Inspection of Public Records Act.
In addition, Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido told Colorlines.com that members from her group were filing complaints with the Attorney General to document complaints about profiling and harassment of communities of color—exactly the kind of conduct that the 2009 law was supposed to protect against. She resisted making any connection between agencies which failed to comply with the 2009 law and those who might be engaging in bias-based policing, but said that the results of the policy review itself were disheartening.
“Often when incidents take place we have tried to have our community members file complaints and when they end up talking to law enforcement, there are no complaint forms,” Diaz said. Setting up and having a process to make public complaints was part of the 2009 law. “Often it turns out that there aren’t even clear procedures in place to make a formal complaint.”
“This study shows that we still have a long way to go,” Diaz said in a separate statement.