ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - The Albuquerque Police Department has a new system for making sure their officers use force only when necessary, but that system has created a massive backlog of cases that need to be reviewed.
"It was deeply disturbing to say the least," said Paul Haidle, a Senior Policy Strategist with the ACLU.
Haidle says their goal is to hold APD accountable.
"With a number of 300+ investigations, there's serious concerns about whether or not an officer who is found to be out of policy, if they are learning from past mistakes," he said.
According to a Project Status Report, APD has 315 cases to review in their backlog. Of those 315, only 34 of them are currently in review.
The report goes on to say it takes at least 14-hours to review one case with a maximum of 40-hours.
"Under the new agreement with the DOJ, we have to be much more thorough in our reviews," said Gilbert Gallegos.
Gallegos, APD spokesperson, says when the new administration came into office, the backlog was already there. But he says they're working on it, and the department has created two divisions specifically designed to help bring down the backlog.
One division handles use-of-force complaints, and the other deals with misconduct.
"We have a whole commander who's in charge of the whole process, so it's a whole new bureau. We're putting a whole lot of resources and attention into it," he said.
It could take a few more months to see a dent in the backlog, but City Councilor Pat Davis says it's important to get these done as soon as possible for the sake of the community.
"If it's something serious where the public could be in danger if the officer is back on the street, or there are other criminal implications, we've got to treat that like a real case that needs a quick resolution," said Davis.
APD created the Compliance Bureau to fully dedicate their time in clearing the backlog. That bureau is made up of sergeants, officers, and even civilians.
The backlogged cases are being prioritized in part by officers who use force most often, and cases that are the oldest.