ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — Civil rights groups issued a scathing report card to the state's law enforcement agencies saying they're not taking the problem of racial profiling seriously enough.
"I think they stopped us because it was two black people," said Stephen Skinner, a victim of racial profiling. "It was the way we were treated. I've never been treated like that before."
Two years ago state police stopped Skinner and his son on Interstate 25 in Raton for going five miles over the speed limit. They were on their way from Chicago to Las Vegas, Nevada to hit the casinos.
The New Mexico State Police officer searched their car and found nearly $17,000 in the trunk. The duo was let go, but an Albuquerque Police Department officer pulled them over again in Albuquerque and confiscated their money and their car.
Skinner accused State Police of tipping off APD that they were coming though town.
"Racial profiling happens in New Mexico," said Steven Allen with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico. "The reason we wanted to put this law in place is because there's good reason it's going to help.
"It needs to be complied with and enforced if it's going to make a difference."
Three years ago today, the civil rights groups helped get a state law passed to prevent racial profiling. It's called the "Prohibition of Profiling Practices" law and calls on police and sheriff's departments to come up with anti-profiling policies, train their officers on them and have forms for citizens to make racial profiling complaints.
"The average grade on the report card was a 'D'," said author Aimee Villarreal, research fellow Berkeley Law Center for Human Rights.
She was brought in by the ACLU, Somos Un Pueblo, the New Mexico NAACP and Drug Policy Alliance to investigate the state's departments for compliance.
Police departments in Deming, Jal, Loving, Mountainair and Tularosa received Fs. So did the San Miguel and Rio Arriba county sheriff's offices. Only the Santa Fe Police Department and the Socorro County Sheriff's Office earned As.
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, APD and the State Police all got Bs.
KRQE News 13 contacted some of the departments that received failing grades. The Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office, even though graded an F, said they are in compliance and haven't gotten any complaints.
The law states the Attorney General's Office is in charge of establishing and reviewing profiling policies.
The groups also report it's likely the departments that got bad grades don't understand the law. They are working with the AG's office to fix that.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.