Albuquerque Police meeting six of ‘Eight Can’t Wait’ policy changes

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department is touting its progress in tackling excessive force and police policy reform by showing how it’s measuring up to a national effort that’s getting a lot of attention. The reform effort is called “8 Can’t Wait,” targeting eight specific policy changes that reform advocates say can help reduce police violence by 77% percent.

At a news conference late Friday morning, Mayor Tim Keller said the city is meeting six of eight metrics that “8 Can’t Wait” is highlighting. It comes as the city is several years into a police reform settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

“We know our department inevitably makes mistakes, and we basically hope that those mistakes get smaller and less severe and that we learn from them so that they’re not repeated, and I think over the last couple years we can really demonstrate actually doing that,” Mayor Tim Keller said.

Of the eight policy changes “8 Can’t Wait” is highlighting, APD got a passing grade for having policies banning chokeholds and strangleholds; requiring de-escalation; requiring that officers warn individuals before shooting; implementing a “duty to intervene” policy; requiring the use of force continuum limiting types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance and for implementing a policy requiring comprehensive reporting of use of force.

According to “8 Can’t Wait” effort, Albuquerque Police haven’t met policy to “ban shooting at moving vehicles” or requiring exhaustion of “all alternatives before shooting.”

APD command staff said Friday that the department has re-written its operating procedures surrounding the shooting at moving vehicles and exhausting “all alternatives before shooting.” The department says both those shooting policies are also now up for review for possible changes.

Much of APD’s policy change has emerged over the last five years due to the city’s settlement agreement with the DOJ. While the department has rewritten much of its standard operating procedure, APD has also struggled to see officers absorb and implement policy change.

“It’s no different than any other police department going through reform in the country, there is always that reluctance to change,” Mayor Tim Keller said.

Some of the struggle to implement and maintain policy change has been evidenced in the “Independent Monitor Reports” (IMR) containing detailed analysis of how APD is complying with the hundreds of changes outlined in the “Court-Approved Settlement Agreement,” which also referred to as the “CASA.”

In IMR 11 published in May 2020, the Independent Monitor James Ginger wrote about how some command staff is still blocking efforts to investigate and discipline officers within a roughly four-month deadline.

“Some in APD’s command levels continue to exhibit behaviors that build bulwarks preventing fair and objective discipline, including a process of attempting to delay—in some cases successfully—oversight processes until the timelines for administering discipline have been exceeded, thus preventing an effective remedial response to behavior that is clearly in violation of established policy,” Ginger wrote.

KRQE News 13 asked the city how it’s responding to that specific criticism. During Thursday’s news conference, Chief Administrator Sarita Nair said, “It absolutely was a problem, we discussed it in court, it was in the IMR’s, but since January 11 of (2020), which is the new monitoring period, we’re actually in 100% compliance with the 120-day (disciplinary) timeline.”

The city says it’s also addressing DOJ compliance by holding area commanders accountable with regularly measured “compliance report cards.”

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