ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bernalillo County’s sheriff says his deputies will not wear body cameras because he can’t trust the media. He claims reporters would misconstrue the footage to unfairly criticize his officers.
The American Civil Liberties Union was the first to sound off against the sheriff. On Tuesday, the New Mexico Foundation of Open Government chimed in, too.
“I don’t think anyone is trying to unfairly paint the police or to use this video against them,” FOG President Greg Williams said. “I just think everyone wants to know what happened.”
The Sheriff’s Office has had nine deputy-involved shootings in the last four months. Some of those were fatal, including the Nov. 10 shooting death of 50-year-old Matthew Scudero. Investigators say Scudero refused to come out of his mobile home and started shooting at deputies.
Scudero’s sister Darcy spoke with Target 7 this week. She said she initially hoped for video evidence of the shooting, then found out BCSO deputies don’t wear body cameras.
“Why wouldn’t you have them? What is the reason to not have them?” she asked.
Gonzales says his department does not, and will not, wear body cameras because he believes the media will use the footage to falsely criticize officers.
“Gives a lopsided, one-sided story, which I think is a disservice to the whole community,” Gonzales said.
Williams said the Sheriff’s Department should trust the public and let any video speak for itself.
“It often justifies their position because it shows that they were doing their job in a correct way,” Williams said. “And in those situations where maybe they were not, or mistakes were made, or things that they could learn from, the video helps that process.”
Deputies right now do record audio clips of their interactions with the public. The department has yet to release those clips from this month’s shootings.