New Mexico police fight court gun ban


February 12, 2004, 11:43 PM

High court to decide gun ban
By Iliana Limón
Tribune Reporter

Still seething over rules banning law enforcement from carrying guns into Metro Court, Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department officials are taking legal action.

The Albuquerque Police Officers Association, Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White filed a writ Friday asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to overturn Chief Metro Court Judge Judith Nakamura's gun ban.

"I am pleased the decision is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court and eagerly look forward to their ruling," Nakamura said Tuesday. "However, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on the matter because it is still pending."

Citing numerous state laws and the New Mexico Constitution, law enforcement leaders argued they have an inherent right to bear arms and are exempt from laws precluding firearms in state buildings.

The sheriff and police chief appealed the rule instituted by Metro Court judges and administrators banning all weapons from the courthouse after its Jan. 21 move to the new building at 411 Lomas Blvd. N.E. Their requests to judges to amend the rules were denied earlier this month.

"We tried to negotiate and went through the natural appeals process, but it just didn't work," said Greg Brachle, vice president of the police union. "We felt we had no other choice but to pursue legal action."

In sworn affidavits, Gallegos and White state they were informed in early January of the new Metro Court security plan that banned firearms in the courthouse. The chief and sheriff remain upset they weren't allowed to debate the gun ban before it was imposed.

"The lack of sufficient notice to this department, in addition to my inability to work with officials of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court system concerning such a policy, causes me great concern," Gallegos wrote in the affidavit.

Other Metro Court staff members who helped develop the security policy declined to be interviewed Tuesday but released a statement defending the gun ban. Marc Saavedra, chief court administrator, wrote that Police and Sheriff's department leaders were consulted during the past four years as the new security plans for the courthouse were developed.

While firearms are banned in state District Court and U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, the sheriff and police chief argue Metro Court is unique as the busiest courthouse in the state.

"We're dealing with a volatile criminal element there, and removing weapons from officers is dangerous, both for law enforcement and the public," Detective Jeff Arbogast, a police spokesman, said.

Metro Court officials' main argument in defense of the ban is that allowing armed officers to enter the courthouse creates the possibility of suspects wrestling away their weapons, threatening public safety.

Law enforcement leaders and Mayor Martin Chavez said the courthouse had not been the target of any gun problems in the past.

"It's not like these officers are just handed a gun and a badge, then are told to go to work," Arbogast said. "These are highly trained men and women taught to retain control of their weapons."

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February 12, 2004, 11:50 PM
They are upset for being treated the same way the rest of us are treated? No sympathy.

February 13, 2004, 12:33 AM
IMO, every Court jurisdiction that prohibits Police Officers from carrying their their duty weapons in Court should b e held criminally accountable when some non law abiding BG decides to get even with that blankety Blank no good Officer X who put him in jail many moons in the past.

There is no way a "Uniformed " Officer should be required to appear in Court in less than "Full Uniform", and that darn sure includes his sidearm.

Might as well hang a target on his back with a sign saying Shoot me.

February 13, 2004, 12:54 AM
IMO, every Court jurisdiction that prohibits citizens from carrying their weapons outside of their homes should be held criminally accountable when some non law abiding BG decides to victimize a law adiding citizen.

I agree! :)

February 13, 2004, 10:23 AM
The NM ruling isn't unusual. The various Court Orders that have been issued in Minnesota all ban officers as well unless their job is court/prisoner security.

Wow, though, the POLICE really don't like being treated like ordinary folk.

Standing Wolf
February 13, 2004, 08:21 PM
No special privileges for cops?

If a building is paid for with public tax dollars, our civil rights should be respected therein.

El Tejon
February 13, 2004, 08:39 PM
The knights treated as mere serfs by the King's Bench!?!?:eek:

I'll be concerned about this :rolleyes: as soon as I get done thatching my roof and washing by ox.:D IOW, good for the gander, stick it to them.:cool:

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