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Las Cruces City Council meets to discuss newly proposed ordinances

Las Cruces City Hall.
Jonny Coker
Las Cruces City Hall.

On Monday, Las Cruces Police Chief Jeremy Story presented new ordinances to the Las Cruces City Council. The Chief’s first proposal was to change an already existing ordinance that, among other provisions, would prohibit “aggressive” solicitation, and solicitation on roadways that may interfere with traffic.

Next, Chief Story proposed a new ordinance that would specifically prohibit shopping cart theft, but would also require businesses to take steps toward preventing cart theft. Chief Story said the goal was not to criminalize homelessness, but to use the ordinances as a tool to get individuals into treatment.

“At this point…there’s very [few] ways to compel people to get that treatment. And so continuting to just hope that people will decide to get the treatment on their own is not working, and it’s not going to work,” Chief Story said.

District 6 Councilor Yvonne Flores and Mayor Pro Tem Johanna Bencomo both voiced concerns with the ordinances, with Bencomo saying she’d like to see an increase in resources allocated for the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.

“If we continue with something like this, I think, I deeply believe that we actually may be making things worse. And that really concerns me. But as we move forward, I also want to make sure that there is as much harm reduction as possible. And I also [want] to come to the table, and I want to be a good team player. I don’t want to just say no.”

District 3 Councilor Becki Graham said while she understands public criticism of the proposed ordinances, she has confidince in the LCPD to enforce the ordinances ethically.

“I trust that our officers will, in good faith, work to find the critical balance necessary to improve the safety and security for all residents, while also increasing the chance that those facing challenges like addiction and mental health issues will plug in to available resources.”

The meeting ended with the city council agreeing to move the ordinances forward for future consideration, with Councilor Flores as the only vocal opposition.

Jonny Coker is a Multimedia Journalist for KRWG Public Media. He has lived in Southern New Mexico for most of his life, growing up in the small Village of Cloudcroft, and earning a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at New Mexico State University.