ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it is opening up a full investigation into use of force at the Albuquerque Police Department.
The news comes months after the DOJ started looking into allegations of systemic civil rights abuses at APD in August 2011.
"Our investigation into APD's use of force practices will be thorough fair and independent," said Thomas Perez, an assistant U.S. attorney general with the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. "We will peel the onion to its core and we will leave no stone unturned."
APD has had a number of incidents that have upset many in the community over the last couple of years including 25 officer-involved shootings, 17 of them fatal.
Another case involved video of an officer holding down a suspected car thief while another officer kicked him. KRQE News 13 uncovered another incident in August where officers kicked in a door to a home they did not have a warrant to search and later stepped on a surrendering suspect's head.
But Perez says this isn't about one case.
"We are focused on whether there is a pattern or practice of excessive force by the APD including but not limited to the use of deadly force," Perez said.
Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry and APD Chief Ray Schultz both attended Tuesday's announcement and pledged full and complete cooperation with federal investigators.
"We will make cooperation professionalism and collaboration the order of the day," Berry said. "We will tackle issues head on, just as we have done since I've taken office and we will not shy away from difficult decisions that need to be made for the betterment of Albuquerque."
"This to me is a challenge to bring the department to the highest level possible and to restore the community's trust," Schultz said.
Perez says APD is now the 14th police department with an active DOJ investigation underway.
The DOJ declined to give a timeline for how long its investigation would take. Similar probes in Portland and Seattle took about a year.
"One thing I have learned is when you open one door thinking that's the only door you're opening you often find that there are a five more doors, a few windows and maybe an attic and even a trap door," Perez said.
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