ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new scathing report by the Independent Monitor is calling out the Albuquerque Police Department‘s reform efforts. While the report said APD has made some progress, there are other areas they still need to work on.
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After more than six years of assessing and critiquing changes at APD, the Independent Monitor said he still sees too many cases of officers using unnecessary force and that APD “does not have an appetite for taking serious approaches to control excessive or unwarranted uses of force.” APD’s Chief of Police Harold Medina said they do take this seriously and adds that one of their problems is they’re still reviewing a pipeline of old cases, which makes it tough for them to review an issue in a timely manner.
“It’s hard because the fact that we’ve identified these trends, they’re not in real-time,” said Chief Medina. “We’ve never given them corrective action it’s something they’ve been doing.” But Chief Medina said they’ve been proactive in changing their use of force policy when they do notice trends.
The report also states that “APD routinely fails to follow on its own written policy” on discipline measures, saying that instead of using an 8 to 32-hour suspension, they’ll use a written reprimand. Chief Medina said they’re working to rewrite their discipline policy to ensure that different types of violations are addressed differently.
“So for example, if somebody doesn’t log their camera, and un-completely related policy violation such as somebody gets in an accident in their unit, plus somebody misses court, so you have three completely unrelated topics in this system it is said that should equal an 8 to 32-hour suspension and that’s not the case in a lot of agencies across the nation,” said Chief Medina.
“The Monitor constantly moves the goalposts down,” said Shaun Willoughby with the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association. APOA said the Monitor’s report is not reflecting the good in APD. “He’s constantly using in every monitor report inflammatory language to describe very minute, minuscule things,” said Willoughby.
While the American Civil Liberties Union said APD has taken some steps in the right direction, they said they expect excellence from this department. “If there are problems in the way the department uses force, you can bet there are problems everywhere else in the department and that people are not being held accountable to policies in all other parts of the department,” said ACLU of New Mexico, Peter Simonson.
The report also recommends the department needs to be better staffed. Chief Medina said some of the expectations are unrealistic because of the number of officers they have and that it takes time to train people when they get moved to a different division.