Albuquerque Police Department to undergo sweeping overhaul in DOJ settlement
The Albuquerque Police Department, under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, will undergo a broad overhaul of its use of force policies and other workings within the department in response to problems with excessive use of both force and of deadly force, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
The changes will include SWAT team protocols, a ban on chokeholds and audits of every Taser use. Also, there will be a civilian review agency and other ways to increase police-community interaction.
The settlement follows the DOJ’s announcement in April that it found “a pattern of systemic deficiencies” in the APD, and that most of the 20 fatal shootings by police between 2009 and 2013 involved unjustified use of force. In one instance, police shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man when called about his allegedly illegal camping.
Under the agreement, the city will develop a Mental Health Advisory Committee with members from the APD, mental health professionals and community representatives to review polices for dealing with the mentally ill and recommend changes and procedures for doing so. Members of the SWAT team—some of them responsible for the controversial shootings—will be prohibited from going individually to crime scenes and must do so only as a unit with supervisors.
The agreement will be filed in federal court by Nov. 10 and provides for a monitor to report on compliance to the DOJ, the city, the public and a federal judge. U.S. Attorney David Martinez said it “addresses the nine points raised in the DOJ report.”
It requires the ADP to have a detailed accountability system for officers and their supervisors for all use of force incidents. It also calls for the elimination of the Repeat Offenders Project; members of this unit have been responsible for a number of controversial shootings.
The agreement states: “The parties have determined that the settlement agreement rather than protracted and costly litigation, is the most effective means of resolving the Department of Justice’s investigation and ensuring constitutional and effective policing for the residents of Albuquerque.”