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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The number of policies violated at the Albuquerque Police Department skyrocketed 275%, and suspension jumped more than 350%. KOAT-TV reports documents on police misconduct showed the number of policy violations increased from 190 to 716 over a year. The number of violations requiring a suspension rose from 52 to 237. The station compared data from July 2018 to June 2019 to information from July 2019 to June 2020. Interim police chief Harold Medina says the Albuquerque Police Department is now holding officers accountable. But Albuquerque Police Officers' Association president Shaun Willoughby says officers are being punished for things like not putting away lapel cameras properly.


SEELEY LAKE, Mont. (AP) — A research effort to see how long it takes people to recover from living with hazardous levels of wildfire smoke for seven weeks still hasn't determined the answer. Some residents of the western Montana town of Seeley Lake who stayed in the area during the 2017 wildfire season are participating in a University of Montana study of their lung capacity. Researchers found that people's lung capacity declined in the first two years. Kaiser Health News reports researchers don't know how the residents are faring this year because they could not return to Seeley Lake due to the coronavirus pandemic. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Public Education Department has given the green light for more students in tribal areas to attend school in-person. McKinley County, which covers much of the Navajo Nation, now has a low enough rate of COVID-19 cases that it can allow schools to offer in-person learning two days per week to students in kindergarten through the fifth grade. Middle school and high school students across New Mexico are not allowed to return to school. Some urban school districts like Albuquerque and Las Cruces have decided to stay online for the rest of the year, despite being marked in the "green zone" based on COVID-19 testing criteria. The stakes are higher in rural areas in the northwestern part of the state, where half or more of children don't have access to the internet. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico biologists are asking the public for help as they investigate a statewide die-off among migratory birds. The state Game and Fish Department is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to determine the number of deaths and reason for the occurrence. Officials are asking people to use the iNaturalist app to upload photos and other information to help track the event. The state agency says about 300 samples have been collected over the past week. Samples also are being collected by biologists at White Sands Missile Range and New Mexico State University.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists want federal land managers to suspend efforts to amend a plan that would guide oil and gas development and other activities near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. They sent a letter Thursday to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, saying the coronavirus pandemic has prevented meaningful in-person consultation with Native American tribes and others who would be affected by the decision. Officials held five virtual public meetings earlier this year and extended the public comment period to Sept. 25. Four more meetings were held in August, but critics say those too were inadequate. Legislation that would make federal land within a 10-mile radius of the park off-limits is pending in Congress.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The lone Republican justice on the state Supreme Court is retiring on Dec. 1, triggering the nomination process for one of five seats on the high court. The University of New Mexico School of Law that oversees judicial vacancies made the announcement Thursday about the retirement of Justice Judith Nakamura. She was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez in November 2015 and won election to an eight-year term in 2016. A bipartisan Supreme Court nominating commission is taking applications through mid-October on candidates it can recommend to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico children can practice sports and develop skills while in small groups and residents will soon be able to camp at state parks under changes being made to the state's public health order. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday the updated order also permits visits to pumpkin patches and the state plans to issue guidance for corn mazes and haunted houses as fall approaches. The governor said the state is trending in the right direction but she warned people not to let down their guard. Health officials reported an additional 159 COVID-19 cases Thursday and four additional deaths. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's racetrack and casino operators are asking Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to consider allowing them to reopen. In a letter sent this week to the Democratic governor, they pointed out that commercial casinos outside of New Mexico have opened — from Nevada to New Jersey and New York. Track and casino managers in New Mexico they say they have a plan to do it safely. While tribal casinos in the state have reopened, the governor's office said Thursday that doesn't necessarily make opening a safe decision at this time and that public health conditions will determine when the time is right for easing restrictions on non-tribal operations.