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School police departments to look into officer body camera policies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Body cameras will soon be required for all law enforcement officers in New Mexico, including at school districts and universities with police departments that resisted using the cameras in the past over student privacy concerns.

University of New Mexico Police said it’s too soon to know what their plans and protocols for body cameras will look like, and that it will take a lot of research.

“Our command staff will obviously look into it,” UNMPD Lt. Tim Stump said. “We look at all avenues of other police departments, universities, small police departments.”

He added they’ll look into the different types of cameras, the cost to buy and maintain them, and protocols for releasing lapel video of on-campus incidents.

Meanwhile, the Bernalillo County Commission is already looking ahead to adopting a resolution supporting the newly passed body camera legislation, despite Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ opposition to putting cameras on BCSO deputies for years.

“There is no trust issues with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and their deputies, so to me, there’s no reason to have body-worn cameras at this point,” Sheriff Gonzales said back in 2017. BCSO is the only large police or sheriff’s department in the state without cameras.

On Wednesday, the police department for the state’s largest school district, Albuquerque Public Schools, said it also has not yet looked into its policies for body cameras. In an emailed statement Wednesday, APS Police Chief Steven Gallegos said the district needs time to review the bill, and that APS will comply with all the requirements.

That means they don’t know yet how much the cameras will cost. Of course, the district is already facing a budget crunch and is expected to make approximately $6.6 million in cuts for next year.

Both APS and UNM have said the reason they didn’t have body cameras was to help protect student privacy. UNM Police also say it was about cost.

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