ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been working on improving how it handles investigations into officers that use force in the line of duty. To complete internal investigations into uses of force, the department had to rely on an external team, now APD appears to be back in charge of its own internal force investigations.

As part of the ongoing settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, APD has been revamping its internal procedures on how it reviews uses of force. That includes officer-involved shootings as well as lower levels of force.

In the past, an External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) handled a lot of the force review work. But over the last year or so, APD has been ramping up its own internal staff of civilian and sworn investigators to do the review work. Now, APD says that within the most recent reporting period (February 2023 – July 2023), they’ve done their own review work without needing the External Force Investigation Team to take over any cases, and they’ve done it all on time.

“All cases were thorough and complete, and completed within timelines,” APD wrote in a report filed in federal court. “The department continues to conduct quality and timely investigations, leading to improved case presentations at the Force Review Board.”

Taking charge of force investigations has been a key milemarker for progress towards the settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The recent progress comes after APD’s Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD) worked to boost staffing numbers.

APD is required to have 25 internal investigators, and they say they’ve maintained that number since August of 2021. But they have also continued recruitment efforts in order to get more investigators than required, according to their latest report. Right now, APD has four staff members in the Internal Affairs Force Division with more than two years of experience and seven members with more than a year of experience.

The External Force Investigation Team isn’t quite gone yet. They’re still helping APD transition into self-monitoring. The process for doing that is to have each of APD’s force investigators “graduate” from one level to the next as they gain more and more experience. Right now, nine investigators/detectives have passed through the entire process and can complete force investigations without help from the external team. APD has other investigators working their way up the ladder.