ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing allegations against the Albuquerque Police Department for its high number of officer involved shootings, according to a DOJ spokesman. An official investigation could soon follow.
APD officers shot 19 people since January 2010. Thirteen of them have been fatal.
Late Monday night, city councilors voted 5-4 to ask the DOJ to probe the department's policies and procedures as related to deadly force situations. Councilman Rey Garduno also added an amendment to the resolution, asking the DOJ to also investigate any civil rights violations by APD.
Councilman Dan Lewis was the lone Republican to side with the Democrats.
"There's a lack of confidence and trust in our department and we need to restore that honor," said Lewis. "This is not about the majority of our police department that do a great job, an honorable job. This is about the clear issues and problems that we need to get to the bottom of."
But the city just spent close to $60,000 and eight months to have a national agency, the Police Executive Research Forum, or PERF, to highlight APD's problems. The report, released late June, made nearly 40 recommendations, everything from using non-lethal weapons like Tasers, installing dashcam videos for review and hiring the right officers.
"The study that we have is almost verbatim with the language that was in the city council bill last night," said Mayor R.J. Berry. "'Let's find an expert, we did. Let's have them come in to the city and take a look. We did.' It was comprehensive."
Berry, who hired PERF, believes calling in the federal agency now may be a bit premature.
"We're simply asking people, let us do our job," said Berry. "We're being proactive. We have all these steps in place. Let's take a look over time and see if these are making a difference."
The mayor will have ten days to sign or veto the resolution. If the mayor vetoes it, councilors will need six votes to override his veto.
But Councilman Ken Sanchez said the DOJ could still proceed with its investigation, without the mayor's approval, if it finds patterns of civil rights abuses. Sanchez said a DOJ investigation would not cost the city because it's a government agency.
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