ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In 2012, controversial, deadly police shootings led the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate years of oversight on the Albuquerque police. As the department has made improvements and the Albuquerque Community Safety Department has grown, the oversight agreement could change.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) asked a federal judge to update the oversight agreement aimed at ensuring APD does not violate the U.S. Constitution. In the request, both APD and the Department of Justice note that the police have demonstrated progress and that by updating the agreement, APD won’t be forced to step on the Albuquerque Community Safety Department’s toes.
The Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) provides non-law enforcement responses to 911 calls for mental health issues, homelessness, and similar requests. Before ACS came into existence in 2021, those calls would have gone to APD.
But now, ACS has taken over 15,000 calls that otherwise would have gone to APD, according to the city. So, APD no longer needs to maintain a relatively high number of crisis intervention staff to address those types of calls, APD and the DOJ argued.
If the oversight agreement is amended to reduce APD’s crisis intervention staffing requirements, and several other minor changes, this would be the third time the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) has been modified.
The proposal embodies the fact that APD has made improvements to how they conduct police operations. For example, in recent years APD has instituted the use of bodycams, created a new Civilian Investigative Unit to allow civilians to investigate low-level uses of force, and improved data collection efforts, according to the DOJ.
While the proposed oversight changes do represent progress APD has made towards improved policing standards since the police and the DOJ settled on an oversight agreement in 2014, the news does not free APD from the costly federal oversight. Complying with that oversight has cost the city millions of dollars.