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New Mexico’s public safety chief wants more coordination

January 8, 2019
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a press conference in Albuquerque, N.M. on Monday, Jan 7, 2019, after announcing appointments to agencies that oversee childhood wellbeing, environmental protection, state police and state personnel decisions. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s pick to lead the state Public Safety Department is a state law enforcement veteran who said Monday that he’ll prioritize coordination and data sharing with local police and sheriff’s agencies.

Valencia County Undersheriff Mark Shea, who has a background in school safety and police recruitment, was one of a half dozen appointments Lujan Grisham announced Monday.

Shea will oversee the state police, law enforcement training, crime registries, emergency response and more. Both he and Lujan Grisham underscored a need for more information sharing among local law enforcement agencies and departments.

In recent years, New Mexico has faced high violent crime rates while undergoing key criminal justice reforms, including a voter-approved overhaul of the state’s bail system.

Former Gov. Susana Martinez sought to tackle crime, in part, by increasing penalties and prison terms for repeat offenders and violent criminals.

“If you’re focus is just to enforce the law and look for those who violated the law and incarcerate them or fine them or whatever, you’re going to find that person again down the road,” Shea said.

Shea, a former deputy chief of the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department, said he wants to encourage intervention following a person’s first offense to prevent them from becoming a repeat offender.

Lujan Grisham also said it was important for her to appoint someone with a vision for school safety.

Shea’s 42 years in law enforcement includes a stint in the Department of Public Safety’s training and recruiting division, and as a state instructor for critical incidents and hazmat response.

Early tasks will include discussions with the governor on the appointments of a state police chief and deputy cabinet secretary. He did not say Monday when those appointments will be announced.

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