Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST

Nov 17, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest city is looking for its next police chief and seeking community input as the process moves forward. Albuquerque staff and a specialist hired to help with the search have been meeting with community members and organizations. They've also posted a survey online to collect comments. Mayor Tim Keller says the city wants to know what residents would like to see in their next police chief. The city has been dealing with high crime rates and its police force has been working on reforms for years under the guidance of the U.S. Justice Department and a federal monitor.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. attorney's office says it destroyed a quarter-million plants during marijuana eradication efforts at 21 farms in the Shiprock area of the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. A Monday news release from federal prosecutors says the raids by U.S., state and tribal law enforcement took three days to carry out and involved more than 1,100 makeshift greenhouses. In one instance, 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana was discovered under a tarp. The news release makes no mention of arrests or charges. In October, more than a dozen people were arrested on drug charges at a motel in the area.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Tribal leaders in New Mexico are meeting this week to share strategies for fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The annual Tribal Leadership Summit is bringing governors from Pueblos and other Native American nations together virtually this year. The summit is an opportunity for tribal officials to meet with New Mexico state officials to discuss issues. This year is focused on COVID-19 and, by extension, the ongoing public health and public education crisis indigenous communities face. The governor of Acoma Pueblo used the forum to protest a reduction in hospital services by the federal Indian Health Service, and thank Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for coordinating this year to bring emergency supplies.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A panel of doctors and other health care professionals is recommending increasing the amount of marijuana that can be purchased by participants in New Mexico's medical cannabis program. The advisory board voted Monday in favor of nearly doubling the limit to 15 ounces over 90 days. Supporters say that would at least put New Mexico on par with Nevada and Arizona. They noted other states have much higher limits. The panel also recommended expanding the list of qualifying conditions to include anxiety, attention deficient disorders, Tourette's and some substance abuse disorders. The state health secretary will have the final say.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's highest court is upholding the increased prison time for a repeat offender of domestic violence. The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday against an Alamogordo man appealing his heightened jail sentence under the Habitual Offender Act. James Barela pleaded no contest in 2015 to battery against a household member. It was his third misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. He also had a 2010 felony conviction for false imprisonment. State law calls for a defendant with a previous felony that is not a DWI to face up to an additional year in jail. Barela's attorneys argued the misdemeanor conviction should not have been reconsidered as a felony.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Leading Democratic lawmakers are pressing forward with efforts to begin a legislative session in January 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies and members of a legislative committee were warned of possible exposure to COVID-19 from an individual who tested positive after attending a hearing in the Statehouse. Some Republican lawmakers have suggested the session be postponed until the public can safely attend hearings in-person. New Mexico, California, Oregon, Michigan and Washington state have announcing renewed efforts to combat the coronavirus as more than 11 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is starting its lockdown as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and hospital administrators look to curb COVID-19 infections. Under the latest public health order taking effect Monday, people are being asked to stay at home and only essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, big box retailers, hardware stores and other necessary operations will be open. Universities say they're transitioning back to full online classes while many municipal government offices are closed to walk-in requests. Also as a result of the restrictions, Virgin Galactic says its plans for the first space test flight from Spaceport America will be pushed back.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 197 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The latest figures released Monday night bring the total number of known cases to 13,596 with 603 known deaths. Tribal health officials said more than 138,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and around 7,900 have recovered. The news comes as the Navajo Nation on Monday reinstated a stay-at-home lockdown for the entire reservation. The coronavirus has affected 29 communities throughout the reservation, which spans more than 27,000 square miles in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.