KUNM

Dept. Of Justice Announces Plan For Albuquerque Police Reform

Oct 31, 2014

Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden joined Mayor Richard Berry and members of the U.S. Department of Justice to announce a settlement they have reached on police reform.
Credit Rita Daniels

After months of negotiations with the City of Albuquerque, the U.S. Department of Justice released a binding agreement today that spells out exactly what court-enforced reform of Albuquerque’s police department will look like.

The nine-part settlement requires Albuquerque police officers to have more training with de-escalation techniques and specifically calls for consistent discipline for officers who are found to have engaged in misconduct. It also has a strict anti-retaliation clause for officers who report the questionable behavior of their peers.

Most surprising was the news that the city has 90 days to eliminate the Repeat Offender Project, a special unit of officers who had unofficially been operating as a tactical SWAT team. Some of the team’s officers were involved in fatal shootings of civilians.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said even though it’s taken a while to get to this point, the historic agreement will serve as a legacy for years to come.

“Today I can look any member of our community in the eye and tell them that we have in fact crafted an agreement that will in turn lead to better community outcomes through training, accountability and citizen input,” Berry said.

Renetta Torres said today’s announcement is a relief. Two APD officers killed her son when they shot him in the back as he was laying on the ground. 

“I think we’re very pleased that it is a court enforced decree,” Torres said.  “I think that’s going to make all the difference in the world because there will be monitoring, federal oversight, and that all of these reforms will be in place and carried out.”

In April the Department of Justice said they found a pattern of unconstitutional use of excessive and deadly force by Albuquerque officers who have shot and killed dozens of people since 2010.