ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Twenty-four officer-involved shootings in 28 months for Albuquerque police has brought heavy criticism from a segment of the city's public and four city councilors.
One high-ranking Albuquerque Police Department officer is fighting back against that criticism.
Commander Cliff Saylor, who's in charge of the Foothills Area Command, wrote an e-mail to neighborhood leaders defending the department and its officers before the most recent shooting last week.
"It is absurd to blame the 23 officer-involved shootings on APD," wrote Saylor in the letter. "In all of these 23 officer-involved shooting situations, APD responded to a call for help.
'However, before APD arrived several failures had occurred that made our job incredibly difficult."
The failures Saylor lists includes failures of families to properly raise their kid, schools for failing to educate the student, the prison system for failing to rehabilitate the criminal and the suspect for not following officer orders.
Saylor also blamed a "very negative media" for amplifying APD's critics.
Family members of those shot by APD were upset by the e-mail.
"The society and system has failed a certain group of people, yes, I give them that, but that's not the root of the problem," said Kenneth Ellis Jr., whose son was killed by APD in 2010.
Ellis' son was an Iraq war veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress. Officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba shot him in front of a 7-11 while he was holding a gun to his head.
The Ellis family is suing over that incident and Ellis says police should help people struggling with mental issues, not shoot them.
"They don't need help to their grave, they need help with their mental health issues and help with their adjusting to society," Ellis said. "They're justifying all these killings, and not all of these killings are justifiable."
APD Chief Ray Schultz says he understands the frustration that led to Saylor's letter but doesn't think it was appropriate.
"The police department is supposed to be that neutral party, and we all have opinions, but sometimes we need to keep our opinions to ourselves," Schultz said.
Saylor is set to retire at the end of June. When KRQE News 13 reached him for comment, he said he could not comment until after he retired.
Police responded to dozens of weather-related crashes in only a matter of hours Sunday.
A small plane crashed at about 8 a.m. Sunday morning on the Canyon Rim Trail near N.M. 502 and the entrance of Los Alamos.
Sunday night in Albuquerque and around the world people gathered for candlelight vigils to remember the loss of their children.
Department of Agriculture officials are warning customers to not get burned when buying firewood.
Church groups, parents and teachers met Sunday at the 20th annual Albuquerque Interfaith Convention. State education reform was their central focus.
Police officers were called out to Lovelace Hospital on Saturday after a patient woke up to find his laptop missing.