It only took the Department of Justice 16 months to figure out what the rest of us have known for a long time: The Albuquerque Police Department has a pattern of using excessive force.
APD officers have shot 37 people since 2010. Of those, 23 were fatal.
Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, wrote a letter to Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden, in which the allegations were listed.
The 46-page letter began with an overview of the investigation and the applicable laws:
Section 14141 makes it unlawful for government entities, such as the City of Albuquerque and APD, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
Based on our investigation, we have reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141.
A release issued by the DOJ yesterday said the investigation found three patterns of excessive force used by APD officers, reported CBS News:
- APD officers too frequently use deadly force against people who pose a minimal threat, and in situations where the conduct of the officers heightens the danger and contributes to the need to use force.
- APD officers use less lethal force, including electronic controlled weapons, on people who are passively resisting, non-threatening, observably unable to comply with orders or pose only a minimal threat to the officers.
- Encounters between APD officers and persons with mental illness and in crisis too frequently result in a use of force or a higher level of force than necessary.
The investigation also found the police department had systemic deficiencies, including: deficient policies, failed accountability systems, inadequate training, inadequate supervision, ineffective systems of investigation and adjudication, the absence of community policing, and a lack of sufficient civilian oversight. (source)
Mayor Berry said the city will work with the DOJ to make changes and that he expects a federal monitor to track progress:
“It won’t be quick and easy, but we can achieve it,” he said in a written statement.
Acting U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez for the District of New Mexico shared his thoughts on the findings. CBS News reports:
Martinez called the findings “groundbreaking” and said they “provide a blueprint for changing the culture of the Albuquerque Police Department and for rebuilding broken relationships with the community it serves.”
Although there are difficult and systemic issues to resolve, we embrace these challenges and are very optimistic for the future of the Albuquerque Police Department,” Martinez said.
Street protests and demands for reform followed the APD shooting of James Boyd, a homeless man whose senseless execution was caught on a helmet cam worn by one of the officers.
Mayor Berry called Boyd’s death a “game changer” and said improved officer training is necessary:
“I’m calling on our legislators to take action as well to craft laws to help individuals living with mental health issues, particularly individuals who have a propensity to do harm to themselves or others,” the mayor told reporters.
Does the call for improved officer training include the elimination of curriculum developed by Jack Jones? Jones is the director of the law enforcement academy, and he’s been teaching APD officers to use LESS restraint in deciding when to use deadly force. Remember, he’s the fella who tried to justify that stance because there are so many “bad guys” out there:
“Evil has come to the state of New Mexico, evil has come to the Southwest, evil has come to the United States.”
Reports about the DOJ’s findings don’t specifically mention Jones, but he is one of the defendants in a whistleblower lawsuit that was announced a few days ago. Four former instructors at New Mexico’s law enforcement academy say they were ostracized (and three of them were fired) after reporting superiors for illegal activity and for refusing to encourage cadets to cheat. KOB Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the lawsuit and reported the story a few days ago:
Any criminal charges against officers who were involved in the shootings will be handled outside of this DOJ investigation. The FBI is investigating the Boyd shooting.
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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”