September 25, 2020

NM public safety secretary ‘dismissed’ by governor

Laura Paskus

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office confirmed Friday that the state’s head of public safety was “dismissed.”

The news site Northern New Mexico Independent first reported that Lujan Grisham fired Public Safety Secretary Mark Shea.

In response to the report that Shea notified his, now former, employees in an email, NM Political Report inquired with the governor’s office for further confirmation. 

Lujan Grisham’s office did not reply specifically to the request, but it did release a statement saying the Lujan Grisham administration “is taking the opportunity of a leadership change to strengthen the mission of the Department of Public Safety to deliver vigorous and smart-on-crime statewide law enforcement, with a renewed emphasis on community police work and the unequivocal protection of New Mexicans’ civil rights.”

“I want to thank Secretary Shea for his service to the state,” Lujan Grisham said in a prepared statement. “The Department of Public Safety plays an essential role. Our employees and officers are duty-bound to equitably protect and dutifully serve New Mexicans, and I am confident they will continue to meet and exceed the expectation of communities all across the state.”

In its announcement, the governor’s office said New Mexico State Police (NMSP) Chief Tim Johnson will serve as interim secretary while the state looks for Shea’s permanent replacement. NMSP Deputy Chief Robert Thorton will take on the role of interim state police chief, according to the announcement. 

Shea’s employment termination comes during a time of both local and national calls for reforms of police departments and civil rights laws.