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New Mexico: AG wants police training in SPED students; routine calls from schools

Oct 29, 2019, KOAT TV, Albuquerque, NM: AG: Police encounters with special ed students is 'black eye' New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas wants a new state law that mandates all law enforcement officers receive training on how to deal with special needs students. Balderas’ announcement to Target 7 comes in the wake of two separate incidents that occurred in northern New Mexico within four months of each other. In both cases officers are seen on camera fighting with special education students. … The first incident occurred on May 10 when Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Barnes shot a student with a Taser after he refused to allow the officer to search him for drugs. The AG’s office charged Barnes and he was terminated from the Sheriff’s Department. On Aug. 27, Farmington police Officer Zachary Christenson was seen on video wrestling an 11-year-old girl to the ground. The officer had been at the school for more than 30 minutes trying to get the girl to go to the classroom. Christenson resigned while his department was conducting an internal affairs investigation. “Both of these cases have raised the profile of New Mexico and made national news which is a black eye for law enforcement and the education community,” Balders said. “I am convinced that if they had more information and more training these situations might have been a little bit different.” Balderas said he also wants state law to address when school officials should call the police, force school officials to brief officers about the child’s background and have a predetermined plan on what to do when the student is not following instructions. Former New Mexico Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Nick Bakas said there are training gaps that need to be filled….
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