ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For weeks this summer, people across the country and here in Albuquerque marched to demand police reform. As the City of Albuquerque negotiates a new labor contract with its police officers, some are calling on the City to include police reform in the deal. Police reform advocates said the current Albuquerque Police contract is standing in the way of accountability and they want real change.
“We’ve got a couple of easy fixes that would go a long way to producing accountability,” said New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association Executive Director, Paul Haidle.
An Albuquerque Police reform petition, signed by 1,200 people, is demanding changes in the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association collective bargaining agreement. In officer misconduct cases, they want an officer’s information released to the civilian Police Oversight Board.
“When the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t even allow an officer’s name to be shared with the Board that is supposed to be providing oversight, how on Earth is the board supposed to know if one officer keeps repeating the same infractions of policy,” said Haidle.
“I don’t believe its necessary for the POB to have access to officer’s names,” said the police union president, Shaun Willoughby. “If we have an officer that does something egregious, they usually get released pretty quickly and abruptly. If an officer gets criminally charged for whatever reason, it’s a matter of public record.”
The coalition behind the petition also wants the identity of people filing complaints against officers to be withheld from that officer. “It raises serious concerns of the likelihood of a person actually breaking that thin blue line and sharing information about wrongdoing, that they’ve seen officers engage in because there’s always a fear of retaliation,” said Haidle.
The union said that’s not fair to cops. “I think we have a right to know who filed a complaint against us,” said Willoughby. “I don’t think there’s been one evidentiary case of a police officer retaliating against the public, I think that is a completely false narrative.”
There were negotiations on a new agreement between the City and the police union in March, but it wasn’t finalized. The union said they have no interest in revisiting the items in the petition.
“There’s no need for the APOA to encourage a revisiting. we’re definitely comfortable with the agreement we made,” said Willoughby. “I think it’s well rounded and I think the APOA has been part of the reform effort.”
The final agreement between the City and the police union was put on hold because of the pandemic. The City said they will review the recommendations and take them into consideration when negotiations resume.
The police union said they are open to one suggestion in the petition: extending the limit on administrative investigations that now stands at 90 days. The union said it would consider a 120-day limit with additional days for further review.
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