ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It was a wave of police shootings that led the Albuquerque police chief to make a promise to hire more compassionate officers
The Albuquerque Police Department spent $60,000 on an independent review at the height of the controversy a year ago. One of the crucial recommendations for cutting down on police shootings had to deal with who is on the force.
The chief says their recruitment process is making some new changes.
Inside the academy there are new realistic simulators that can be adapted by the minute.
The chief says cadets are now asked broader questions and they are reviewed by an independent psychologist. Also, cadet's employment status is constantly reviewed.
"Once you get hired doesn't mean you are going to be successful at being a police officer," said Chief Ray Schultz.
Schultz says those changes are leading to better officers; ones who solve problems instead of making them escalate.
"The guy or gal who comes in and says I am going to go in and arrest all the bad guys and crack heads, obviously not the person we want," said Schultz. "We are looking for people that really, genuinely want to go out and help to make a difference in the community."
Many times officers are dealing with people in crisis. Officers have seen mental health issues in many of the 24 police shootings since 2010. The chief says every applicant, about 1,500 per class, is scrutinized.
"Thirty will be hired or about 45, maybe we will graduate 20," said Schultz.
After that the new officers ride along with supervisors for 12 weeks, where a few more of them are weeded out.
There have been calls for the Department of Justice to investigate APD over the shootings. The chief maintains there is no reason to call in the DOJ because his department is making changes. So far the feds haven't decided what to do.
Another big change was outfitting every officer with a lapel camera. They face punishment if they fail to turn them on when they're on a call.
The report also recommended dash cams for all APD cars, there are no plans for that.
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