Public Safety and the Rio Rancho Police Department

by | Nov 15, 2021 | Editorials and Opinions

By Gail Pinkepank
Article appeared in the ABQ Journal Opinion Section on November 15, 2021

It’s no wonder that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently appointed Jason Bowie,
who was serving as Deputy Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department (RRPD), as
Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. To help prevent the sort of
violent incidents we have seen around the country in recent years, the RRPD has taken
positive steps to improve standards and operating procedures. If only other
departments could follow RRPD’s example, perhaps deadly police actions can be
prevented. What a great improvement it would be if we could stop the police actions
around the nation that have resulted in death and injury for so many, including George

In extraordinary transparency, RRPD posts its nearly 400 page Standards and
Procedures Manual on its website for Rio Rancho citizens to read and learn what to
expect from their RRPD. Key topics that should help to prevent unnecessary injury are
listed below:

Use of Force. RRPD emphasizes the value and importance of each human life.
All officers receive training in use of force standards including de-escalation
practices and less lethal measures. Every officer has a duty to intervene to
prevent or stop use of force that is not reasonable. Failure to do so can result in

Restraining Prisoners. All prisoners should be handcuffed behind the back,
with certain medical exceptions. Officers should not leave restrained persons
lying face down or in one position longer than reasonably necessary to gain
control of the person. And RRPD Officers should not restrain or tie prisoners in
a manner that does not allow the person to sit upright.

Mental Illness/ Developmental Disabilities. Training and guidance are provided
to recognize individuals with mental illness, and on crisis intervention
procedures, deescalation, and medical transport or criminal arrest procedures.
Cameras / Recordings. RRPD officers activate body-worn cameras to
document police activity, and procedures for public release of recordings have
been established. Officers are instructed to respect the First Amendment rights
of citizens to record police activity. RRPD officers may not attempt to intimidate
or discourage individuals from recording, and should assume they will be
recorded at all times.

Complaints. All complaints, even anonymous complaints of misconduct, are
reviewed and investigated as appropriate. Department Internal Affairs or
independent investigations can result in discipline or criminal referrals if

Let’s hope that Secretary Bowie can spread the forward looking policies and
procedures practiced by RRPD around the State. Thank you for the great
appointment, Governor!

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