ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After nine years of changes to how police officers do their jobs in Albuquerque, city leaders feel they may finally be getting close to the end of U.S. Department of Justice-led reforms.
The Albuquerque Police Department is projecting a lot of confidence after the latest report from the independent monitor indicated over 94% compliance with all of the reforms in the settlement agreement. However, there are still some areas that need work.
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“This is about ensuring that there’s accountability when we’re not perfect. Making sure that we recognize when somebody does something wrong maliciously and when somebody has an accident at work. And that is why I am so proud at the program we have because our officers have gone back to work, they’re making the city safe, and we are very close to finding the end of this process,” said APD Chief, Harold Medina.
The DOJ reached its police reform agreement with APD in 2014 after a federal investigation found the department was engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive and deadly force.
On Wednesday, the monitor overseeing reforms published his 18th report, covering February through July. With 94% compliance, APD is now just one percentage point away from meeting the court-mandated 95% compliance with the settlement agreement.
That represents just three goals APD still needs to work on. “While we still have challenges, and the area of crime will continue to ensure that our officers are out there. But the number one aspect is that our officers feel they can go out, do their job, and that they’re not going to get in trouble for something that they’re unaware of or some process that doesn’t work for the city of Albuquerque,” said Chief Medina.
The monitor’s report still indicates the city is having issues with staffing, particularly around the Civilian Police Oversight Agency which is supposed to be an independent watchdog over the department.
APD told News 13 that city council ultimately has the final say over any changes to that agency. The next compliance report will be out in January. Originally, prior Mayor Richard Berry’s administration aimed to have reforms complete by 2019.