OPINION: We Don’t Talk About Georgene, No, No, No
Daniel Klein - Contributor Posted: February 22, 2022 1:00 PM
Body Camera Footage from State Rep. Georgene Louis DWI arrest.
Have you seen the new Disney movie Encanto? If you haven’t, you must see it. Encanto is magical and entertaining in a nice way that takes you away from this crazy world for a while.
Two hours later you get to crash back to reality.
By now everyone knows that New Mexico Representative Georgene Louis was arrested for Aggravated DWI around midnight on February 13, 2022, in Santa Fe. Georgene had a breath alcohol reading of twice the legal limit for alcohol. Making matters worse, this happened during the 2022 New Mexico Legislative Session.
My first cause for concern is this: Had she not been arrested is there a possibility that she would have still been intoxicated that morning when she was to chair the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee? Could she have still been under the effects of alcohol while doing the people’s business?
Then we have the shocking revelation from one of our New Mexico state senators that he and a lobbyist consumed a bottle of wine in his office at the Roundhouse during the legislative session. I think it’s pretty clear that New Mexico has a drinking problem and it starts at the Roundhouse. How many other legislators are drunk, or drinking alcohol, when they are sitting in committee, debating on the floor, hanging out in their office or voting on issues that effect New Mexicans? If you or I were drinking or drunk at work we would get fired, but at the Roundhouse the same rules apparently don’t apply.
The Roundhouse is a gun free zone, it should also be a drug and alcohol free zone, is that too much to ask?
Do we need to install a breathalyzer device at the doors of the Roundhouse to make sure that our representatives are sober when they are showing up to do our work? Can you see it now, every senator and representative standing in line, to blow into the device and if they don’t blow 0.00 they are refused admittance to the Roundhouse? Is this a bad idea? They are doing the people’s business, so shouldn’t we make sure they are sober when they are voting? Clearly, we can’t trust our elected officials to police themselves, can we?
The next concern is the whispers that began regarding where Georgene was at prior to her driving and being arrested. There are no secrets in Santa Fe, and in this case, there isn’t very much courage either. These whispers pointed to a party where several members of the Legislature may have been in attendance. These whispers asked why no one at this party intervened to stop Georgene from driving away in an intoxicated state (by state I mean New Mexico and her breath alcohol test).
Sadly, none of these whisperers wished to stand up and ask the question publicly.
Are the rumors true? I reached out by email to several of our esteemed state legislators, and while they acknowledged receiving my questions, not one of them responded. These are our public officials. They always talk about a “blue wall of silence” for police officers, well it appears there is a wall of silence when it comes to the Legislature also.
Why is it important to know if Georgene was drinking with other legislators before she got behind the wheel of her car? It matters because our Legislature has enacted laws that can make the host of a party liable for the actions of someone who leaves and is drunk. It matters because--and again no one is willing to go public yet, so we don’t know--if Georgene was drinking with other legislators present, didn’t they have a duty to stop her from getting behind the wheel of her car? The Legislature has enacted laws that can have serious consequences for servers in bars and restaurants who knowingly serve intoxicated people. This is one of those moments where the laws they enact on all of us, certainly should apply to all of them.
Thankfully Georgene was stopped by Santa Fe Police before she could harm innocent people. The leadership of the Legislature has issued statements of how they are so concerned for Georgene and her family, stopping short of expressing relief that she didn’t hit anyone. What the Legislature’s leadership should be doing is issuing a statement thanking Santa Fe Police for stopping a drunk driver before she could do harm to an innocent family.
The body camera footage from the DWI investigation on February 23, 2022
I spent twenty years with the Albuquerque Police Department, and I am still cursed with the memories of horrific DWI accidents. I could care less about the drunk driver. You know why? Because they don’t give two shits about us. But I do care about those innocent people who’ve have their lives destroyed by drunk drivers. Like the three young men killed at San Mateo and Menaul, and the rookie APD officer who was screaming into his police radio “They’re all dead!” The Cravens family on Christmas Eve, and every cop who was present as those two cars were pulled apart and the bodies of the children were found. A Labor Day afternoon when I watched a hulking veteran police officer break down in tears, sobbing with the father of a young boy who was struck and killed by a drunk driver because our efforts at CPR were not enough to save him. His bike is still there at Taylor Ranch and Montano.
Those are just three of the memories that still find their way into my thoughts, and they still piss me off because the drunk driver will cry elephant tears in front of the judge and promise to change, but they rarely ever do.
So, to all the members of the legislature, instead of just whispering behind each other’s backs and expressing concern for the accused drunk driver, why not step up and represent the people of New Mexico? Tell us where and with whom Georgene Louis was drinking with prior to her arrest for DWI. Issue statements damning drunk drivers, praising the police, and doing more for the victims. This is a chance, an opportunity, for legislators to be courageous and maybe admit that they should have stopped her from driving. There is no shame in admitting you could do better. There is only shame in hiding behind the legislative wall of silence.
Cue the soundtrack for Encanto and let’s get the entire legislature to sing along;
“We don’t talk about Georgene, no, no, no”
Daniel Klein is a retired sergeant from Albuquerque Police Department and served over 20 years in law enforcement.