ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been working on reducing the use of force that is unwarranted or goes beyond department policies for years. The latest report shows that’s improving, and now, APD is giving an inside look at how they determine how and when to use force.
In the last 6 months, APD saw use-of-force incidents 296 times. They stated officers use force in 1% of their arrests each year. Officers must follow certain policies when using force, which was revised in January after there was much scrutiny over a rise in officer-involved shootings within the department.
“Officers have to make split-second decisions. Their adrenaline is flowing. Yes, we try to train in high-stress situations, but again it’s up to that officer to make sure they’re doing everything they can to make sure they are acting accordingly,” said Sergeant Troy Nicko.
APD’s policies were developed as part of the court-approved settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. There are four different levels that range from interactions that do not cause pain to the use of force that results in injury or death.
“Our sergeants have to respond to any level of force. Level 1, 2, or 3: they have to go to the scene, no matter what. They are the ones that are primarily responsible for classification,” said APD Deputy Chief Cori Lowe.
Inside the APD Reality Based Training Center where Friday’s demonstration was held, officers learn from real-life scenarios. Some rooms resemble hotels, offices, or homes to set up instances for officers to practice.
Officers learn how to determine when to use nonlethal force, like tasers or bean bag shotguns, for dealing with a person who is under the influence of drugs or if they have a history of mental illness.
After a series of controversial, deadly police shootings, the DOJ launched an investigation into the department in 2012. The settlement agreement is to ensure that APD can eventually function as a police department that doesn’t violate the U.S. constitution.
According to APD, from August of last year to January of this year, 95% of the use-of-force incidents were within policy.