SANTA FE – The New Mexico Civil Rights Commission is now fully staffed after an announcement Friday from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that she has named the final three members of the nine-member group.
The panel was created through legislation in June during a special session that focused on state funding fixes prompted by economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The session also included discussions around policing and racial inequity as protests raged after the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd in police custody.
Under the legislation, the governor appoints three members and legislative officials appoints six.
Lujan Grisham’s appointees include retired state Supreme Court Justice Richard Bosson of Santa Fe; former Belen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez; and current 2nd Judicial District Chief Judge Stan Whitaker of Albuquerque, who oversees criminal cases.
Rodriguez sued his city after the mayor allegedly asked him to “look the other way” on infractions by officers, according to the Valencia County News Bulletin.
Lujan Grisham said in June that the commission will set her policing reform agenda for the 2021 legislative session.
The panel has until Nov. 15 to issue a report that considers changes to qualified immunity provisions that protect police officers from civil lawsuits. It is also tasked with recommending laws that create a civil right of action for violations of state constitutional rights.
The commission is required to be geographically and racially diverse.
Two of the governor’s appointees are Hispanic and one is Black.
The Legislative Council appointed six members on Wednesday: Gerald Byers, Kim Stewart and Denise Torres, all of Las Cruces; Zackeree Kelin and Mark Baker, of Albuquerque; and state Sen. Steve Neville of Aztec.
In all, the bipartisan commission includes four Democrats, three Republicans and three unaffiliated members.