The Department of Justice released a highly critical report on the Albuquerque Police Department.
The report was a year and a half in the making and was critical of APD in use of force cases from the highly publicized lethal cases to others that did not involve any deaths. The report also recommended reforms for APD to implement in order to fix the constitutional problems that the Department of Justice found.
Politicians from the area responded to the report, many of them calling on APD to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice and implement the proposals. Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry indicated that the city will work with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico indicated the city has been cooperative while the investigation went on.
U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, issued a joint statement following the release of the report.
“The Justice Department’s report makes sobering findings about the use of excessive force and the lack of accountability and oversight at the Albuquerque Police Department,” the Senators said. “The report is a welcome step forward in a longer process.”
The two continued, “We hope that the city of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice will continue to cooperate in good faith with the involvement of the community, and that they will work swiftly to develop a comprehensive court-enforceable plan to improve safety, protect citizens’ constitutional rights, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the public.”
U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham represents most of the city in Congress and was previously a Bernalillo County Commissioner.
The Democratic Representative said it as past time that someone acknowledged the problems APD was with violence.
“After being briefed by the DOJ, I am confident that we are headed toward a court-enforced consent decree with strong federal oversight to ensure real reform of Albuquerque’s police department,” Lujan Grisham said. “The DOJ’s conclusions are extremely serious, and the city should immediately agree to all of the recommendations in order to begin to restore the community’s trust in the Albuquerque Police Department.”
Her Democratic colleague Ben Ray Lujan also represents a small part of Albuquerque and weighed in. He said the use of force from APD in recent years “has shaken the community.”
“As this process moves forward, it will be essential to have significant community involvement and input in order to restore trust in APD,” Lujan said. “I appreciate the work by the Department of Justice and their commitment to work with the Police Department and the community to see that critical reforms are implemented swiftly and effectively.”
State Senator Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, called on a change in the District Attorney’s office.
“The DOJ report pointed out officers face little scrutiny from their superiors in using force, and that external oversight is broken,” Torraco said. “The ultimate oversight is from the District Attorney, but she has apparently ignored what many of us know and what the DOJ has found in its investigation — Albuquerque police officers too often using deadly force in an unconstitutional manner. Let’s hope and pray that more than APD changes, that the DA office changes, as well. I am sympathetic to the incredibly difficult job police must perform, I am not sympathetic that our DA was derelict in her job.”
“When the DOJ stated that constitutional rights have been violated, that is the most serious indictment of leadership,” State Senator Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, said. “Based on these findings, the City of Albuquerque should prepare for multiple lawsuits.” Shootings have already cost Albuquerque taxpayers around $24 million dollars in settlements with families of victims in wrongful shootings.”
State Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, said the report showed “significant issues” within the department when it came to use of force, civil rights violations and the structure of APD.
“Especially important is that all stakeholders come together to rebuild community trust in APD, specifically regarding our response and care for those struggling with mental illness and homelessness,” Keller said. “I support the DOJ’s series of suggested comprehensive remedies…Now it’s time for leaders to step up and put these reforms in place.”
Filed under: Albuquerque, Courts, Featured · Tags: Albuquerque Police Department, Ben Ray Lujan, Department of Justice, Lisa Torraco, Martin Heinrich, Michael Padilla, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Richard Berry, Tim Keller, Tom Udall