ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - In Albuquerque, the Police Oversight Commission's job is to review citizen complaints made against the city's police department but a study released late last year found major problems with the POC.
The study, conducted by Texas-based MGT of America and released in November, states there is a public distrust of the citizen board's process and a perceived lack of power to make a difference in Albuquerque Police Department behavior.
This prompted Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry to recommend 17 changes.
The mayor wants to make sure if citizens have a concern that they can be heard, there's a venue to be heard and they have access to make concerns known.
"We just want to make sure we have the tools, the training and people on the commission with the time and the inclination to be there because this is an important role," Berry said.
The mayor's changes include enforcing training requirements, attendance requirements and increasing community outreach efforts.
City Councilor Rey Garduño said he welcomed the mayor's recommendations but was critical of the study's lack of public input. He also wondered why changes have taken this long.
"Recommendations are good; it's never too late to change for the better," said Garduño. "But I wish we had done this a long time ago."
Currently the city ordinance requires commissioners to attend a yearly civil-rights training session, go on two ride-alongs with APD officers each year and participate in a firearm training session at the Police Academy. However the study found that not every commissioner met those requirements and that several were frequently absent from meetings.
The study suggestions include giving the POC the ability to recommend discipline for officers, asking the city's Independent Review Officer to study trends leading to complaints in reports to the POC and better explain POC findings to complainants.
The Albuquerque City Council heard a presentation from MGT of America Thursday afternoon and is expected to take up the issue of POC reform at its Feb. 6 meeting.
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