Members of the Rules Committee voted 4-3 to block the proposed constitutional amendment, essentially killing it because only a week remains in the legislative session.
Andres Valdez, a community organizer in Albuquerque and critic of his city's police department, spearheaded the proposal.
Valdez tracks police shootings and allegations of excessive force in New Mexico. He said an appointed police oversight committee in Albuquerque is toothless.
"Ask any (city) councilor. They'll tell you it's a joke," he said.
Working with Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, Valdez wanted any city or county in New Mexico to have the right to establish independent elected boards to "investigate and resolve citizen complaints" against police.
Ortiz y Pino sponsored the proposal, which would have allowed state voters to decide whether to allow for elected police review boards.
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, joined with three Republican senators to stop the bill.
Ivey-Soto said Valdez had a valid concern about a lack of independent and effective watchdogs over police departments. But, Ivey-Soto said, the proposal for elected review boards was not a workable solution.
Police unions would be the most motivated groups in trying to elect candidates to review boards, Ivey-Soto said. Also vague was what power an elected board actually would have over police if it found wrongdoing, Ivey-Soto said.
Valdez said he sought the Legislature's help because of a 1994 opinion from the state attorney general. It said state law needed to be changed to allow for elections of independent police review boards.