ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been working on reducing uses of force that are unwarranted or go beyond their department policies. And the latest report from the external team helping APD says the department is improving.

The report, put together by the External Force Investigations Team (EFIT), is part of the oversight intended to help APD comply with its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Run by an outside team of contractors from Florida, EFIT came to existence in February 2021. Since then, its been helping APD and monitoring the police department’s progress.

In the latest EFIT report, the team notes that APD’s Internal Affairs Force Division has made good progress in their internal investigations of the actions of APD officers. The report notes there’s been a continued, “marked improvement” in APD’s Internal Affairs Force Division, which is supposed to manage use of force investigations within the department.

The goal is for APD to eventually handle all use-of-force investigations internally, without the help of the EFIT. And the last few reports from EFIT show that APD seems to be getting closer and closer to that goal, though it’s not clear when exactly EFIT will go away.

The EFIT is just one part of the larger settlement agreement between APD and the U.S. Department of Justice. The thrust of the settlement agreement is to ensure that APD can eventually function, on its own, as a police department that doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution. The department has been working towards that goal since 2014, and some say the finish line is approaching.

“We have heavily invested in reform and the time is right to plan for the end of the settlement agreement,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said in a press release. “It’s time for APD to build on the successes and shift to a new phase of policing in Albuquerque where APD is held accountable to the people, and not to federal monitors.”

APD says they’ve reached a milestone in their efforts to reform: From August 1, 2022 to Jan. 31, 2023, they say that 95% of the use-of-force incidents were within policy. That means during those six months, 15 uses of force were out of policy. According to the EFIT, from July 2021 to February 16, 2023, just over 7% (or 43 of 606) use-of-force incidents that have been investigated were found to be out of policy.

EFIT investigators wrote of one concern in the report, specific to APD’s IFAD. In the report, EFIT wrote, “While improvements occurred in the overall process, the EFIT Executive Team remains
concerned with the IAFD supervisors and the sustainability of IAFD’s recruitment and
retention of personnel.”

As of February 16, 2023, the reporter states that IAFD has eight sworn, fully trained investigators and three vacant positions. There are also 15 civilian investigators, with another two in training.