If you were to ask the common, “everyday” American which United States Police Department is the most brutal, what do you think they’d say? The NYPD? Chicago Police? The LAPD? If you have been paying attention over the past couple of years, you may have a different answer: The Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico.
A federal investigation conducted by the Department of Justice commissioned to address the rampant and unwarranted use of force in the department, says Albuquerque police have shot 41 people since 2010, 27 of them fatally. That’s 8 times the officer involved shooting rate of the NYPD during the same period despite New York City having a population 15 times larger.
Among the investigations findings, the agency concluded that officers too frequently used deadly force on people who posed a minimal threat violating their “constitutional rights.” Investigators also uncovered a significant number of instances in which officers used less lethal measures such as Tasers in an unconstitutional manner and used a higher level of force too often on those with mental illness.
The report also stated that of every Albuquerque police officer that has had a complaint levied against them in the last 30 years, NOT A SINGLE ONE has been convicted or was even charged with using excessive force. Additionally, none have been fired either.
Shortly after the results of the nearly two-year investigation were released in April, the department saw a new spike in fatal shootings, including that of a homeless camper who was fired on as he appeared to be surrendering. Video of that shooting sparked national outrage and led to series of protests(that were infiltrated by police), an attempted takeover of a city council meeting, and a sit-in at the mayor’s office.
The latest shooting came last week, when officers killed a 33-year-old man who they say pulled a gun as they were attempting to arrest him on a federal warrant.
Thursday, the city of Albuquerque agreed to let both a court and an independent monitor oversee reform of its troubled police department, officials said. Mayor Richard Berry signed off on a framework of principles for addressing the problems Justice officials identified in the report.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the agreement “marks an important step forward in addressing the unreasonable use of deadly force uncovered in our investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.”
The agreement calls for improvements in recruiting, training, use of force policies, interactions between officers and the mentally ill, the handling of internal investigations and civilian complaints, management and community engagement.
It also says the city is committed to working with the Justice Department to craft a court-enforceable agreement to address the problems, and to have an independent monitor brought in to oversee the reforms once the plan is approved and filed with a federal court.
Albuquerque joins a growing list of cities targeted by the Justice Department over allegations of brutality and violations of constitutional rights. Seattle, Denver, New Orleans and Los Angles are among others whose departments have operated under oversight from independent monitors amid similar complaints.
Check out this report from CNN: