The Las Cruces City Council could continue to explore the possibilities of forming a Civilian Policy Oversight Commission (CPOC) for the Las Cruces Police Department.
The Council was presented with a proposal and heard comments from residents who want the proposed committee to review public allegations of use of lethal force and other serious claims of city police at its Monday, May 22, 2023, work session, in Council Chambers at City Hall, 700 N. Main St.
By implementing a CPOC, the group that presented to Council hopes to bring the public more into the process independent police auditors utilize in reviewing actions taken by LCPD; bring fresh ideas to future police audits; improve community education of police policies and procedures; increase communications between LCPD and residents; and enhance transparency between police and residents.
The residents also said CPOCs have been successful in cities across the U.S. and cited Eureka, Calif., Santa Monica, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., as cities where commissions have been beneficial.
City Councilors questioned how a proposed CPOC would function as a part of city government. The Council also asked about the authority the commission would have, the estimated costs to form the commission, and if the commission should include city and Doña Ana County residents.
The City currently contracts with OIR Group, of Playa Del Rey, Calif., an independent police auditor who reviews complaints submitted to LCPD’s Internal Affairs Division. The police auditor briefs City Council and City management on its findings twice a year.
The City is currently negotiating a contract extension. The Council also questioned how a CPOC would interact with an independent police auditor.
Also at Monday’s work session, City Council was presented with an update on ground ambulance transport. In February 2019, the Council directed the Las Cruces Fire Department to pursue a Certificate of Necessity from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to establish its own ambulance service.
The presentation included an overview of ambulance services and agreements with the City since 1977. The emergency medical system’s current performance and information about system demand in the city and county also was discussed.
City Council was updated on the implementation of a mediation settlement, in December 2020, between the City, county, and American Medical Response. A new agreement between the parties for ground ambulance service is expected to begin in January 2024.
Additionally, the Council received a presentation from Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) on the City’s Natural Gas and Energy line of business and how natural gas is procured.
The Council was informed that there are 1,011 miles of natural gas lines in the city’s service area. Las Cruces Utilities has three natural gas suppliers: Shell Energy North America, the New Mexico Energy Acquisition Authority, and the Public Energy Authority of Kentucky. El Paso Natural Gas pipeline company delivers 100% of the natural gas received by LCU.