The Department of Public Safety is asking for a $13 million budget increase

SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – The Department of Public Safety is the latest state agency to step before legislatures to demand more money before the next fiscal year. This time, they’re asking for a recurring budget increase of about $13 million.

NMDPS said it is focused on customer engagement, technology and training, and is asking for $13 million, or a 9% budget increase, to do so. “When you fund DPS, you really fund the entire state of New Mexico. Whether municipality, district, authority or state, we really provide services for many [of] different organizations, not just DPS,” said Jason Bowie, Cabinet Secretary for DPS.

The cabinet secretary gave an example of a four-week state police deployment to the greater Albuquerque area during the Balloon Fiesta. He said the operation resulted in 172 arrests, of which 120 were felonies and 52 misdemeanours. He also said the operation recovered 32 stolen vehicles and 24 firearms.

For state police who fall under DPS, the department is asking for a 3% increase in its general fund. That’s about $3.6 million. According to the department’s presentation package, the money would help pay for software upgrades, new tasers and ammunition, and help the state police complete implementation of the fiscal year 2023 officer compensation plan. It will also help fund the retention of officers by ensuring fair pay.

DPS is also asking for $1.2 million in extra funding for state police to pay for bulletproof panels to protect officers from gunfire and investigative technology such as scanners that would take 3D maps of a crime scene.

“It’s very important when you testify in court what exactly was found, when and where at the crime scene, and that’s what these scanners provide. The ones we have right now are nearing the end of their lives,” Bowie said.

Across the department’s other divisions, DPS is requesting approximately $3.6 million for 15 new forensic science scientists and three new administrative positions for its new forensic lab. It is also asking for funding for new posts at the Law Enforcement Academy.

If approved, the DPS budget for fiscal 2024 would be approximately $163 million. Last year, DPS received a $20 million budget increase.