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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Mayor in troubled New Mexico city names new police chief

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — The mayor of a troubled New Mexico city has named a new police chief days after telling the current top officer he would be replaced. The Las Vegas Optic reports Las Vegas, New Mexico, Mayor Louie Trujillo will appoint Adrian Crespin as the city's next police chief. Crespin is currently the head of security at New Mexico Highlands University and retired from the Las Vegas Police Department in 2015. Trujillo confirmed last week he told current Police Chief David Bibb he will be replaced. Since Juan Montaño retired as chief in 2018, the city has seen four acting chiefs.

  • New Mexico State extends suspension of athlete workouts

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State says it will continue its temporary suspension of student-athlete workouts as it waits for more COVID-19 testing results. The college said this week the suspension will remain after six student-athletes and a sports performance staff member tested positive for the virus last week. Additional tests have resulted in 135 negative cases, 20 positive cases, and seven others are still awaiting their results. The cases affect multiple sports. Workouts and other team activities will resume once medical personnel approves. 

  • New Mexico mandates police body cameras in wake of protests

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor has signed legislation to require that police officers wear body cameras as a deterrent against excessive use of force. Signed Wednesday, the policing reforms apply to local and state law enforcement officers with the exception of tribal agencies. The state's Democrat-led legislature approved bill in June during a four-day special session. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham first called for the body camera requirements amid demonstrations set off by George Floyd's killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. A bill sponsor has invoked the death of Antonio Valenzuela at the hands of Las Cruces police officers in a video-recorded encounter in February that has led to charge of involuntary manslaughter against one officer.

  • US rule targets disease-stricken countries to deny asylum

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration has proposed empowering border authorities to deny asylum to people from countries with widespread communicable disease. Wednesday's announcement is the latest in a string of regulations before the November elections to dramatically raise the bar on who qualifies for humanitarian protections. The Homeland Security and Justice departments say denying asylum to people from high-risk countries would combat disease in the United States, in some cases stopping it before it reaches American soil. The rule would take effect sometime after a 30-day period for public comments.

  • New Mexico marks 2nd highest daily new COVID-19 case count

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It will be up to the New Mexico Supreme Court to decide a case over the state's authority to enforce certain provisions of public health orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Arguments will be presented during an Aug. 4 remote hearing. About a dozen business owners and companies are challenging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's authority to levy hefty fines for violating public health orders. The Democratic governor has declined to reopen any more of the economy because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases. State officials said Wednesday marked New Mexico's second-highest daily new case count yet, with the statewide total of confirmed cases topping 14,000 since the pandemic began.

  • Governor's vetos could cost New Mexico tribes some funding

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham used her veto power to preserve executive control over hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding in the budget solvency bill she recently signed. The move could mean less financial assistance for some Native American communities. State lawmakers during the special session had prioritized the communities by setting aside $23 million for tribal governments and another $15 million specifically for northwest counties with large Indigenous populations. That was in addition to allocating the federal funds statewide based on population numbers. The governor's team says it's working on a formula to ensure distribution is equitable.

  • Monuments and statues are falling. But what comes next?

TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. (AP) — Activists and towns are left wondering what to do with empty spaces that once honored historic figures tied to racism as statues and monuments fall. They also are debating how to remember civil rights figures in areas where they have been forgotten. Some advocates say figures like Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman or Mexican American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta should replace the fallen statues. Others say Isleta Pueblo and World War II Marine Sgt. Miguel Trujillo Sr., who sued to get Native Americans the right to vote in New Mexico, or former slave-turned-abolitionist Olaudah Equiano should have monuments erected in their honor. 

  • Funding approved for housing in 6 New Mexico communities

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority has approved more than $74 million for eight housing developments in six communities around the state. The funding comes through the federal low-income housing tax credit program. Officials said the projects will result in more than 260 new apartments in Sunland Park, Mescalero, Acoma Pueblo and Albuquerque. Another 202 apartments will be renovated in Los Lunas and Albuquerque. In addition to providing much-needed housing in the communities, officials said construction activity from the developments is expected to generate $33 million in income for the communities and support hundreds of jobs.