May 5, 2015

DOJ to look into APD’s use of federal training

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The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to take a look into the Albuquerque Police Department’s participation with the Department of Energy at at a federal facility.

Police officer on radioThis comes months after Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., voiced concern about the police department’s use of the DOE’s National Training Center, which is located at Kirtland Air Force Base. There, Albuquerque police took part in training and in some cases instructed courses using controversial methods.

Grisham released a statement today about the matter, saying that she raised concerns in February to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz about whether Albuquerque police “should have access to the facilities and classes used to train special DOE police forces to protect the nation’s nuclear stockpile.”

She mentioned that for a year, Albuquerque police “has been under a consent decree with the DOJ” following the federal agency’s report that the department had in several cases violated law by using excessive force.

KRQE-TV first reported on the DOJ’s upcoming review earlier today, noting that Albuquerque officers also trained federal employees at the center.

From KRQE:

[The DOJ review] could lead to restrictions on, and even an end to APD’s longstanding participation in courses with titles such as “Fieldcraft,” “Tactical Response Force II,” “Opposition Force” and “Advanced Weapons System Instructor Certification.”

In the latter, according to documents obtained by News 13, students learn to teach others how to use M240 and M249 machine guns and a variety of grenade launchers. Tactics used in some of the other courses include “vehicle ambush,” “recapture/recovery and pursuit operations,” “close quarters battle techniques” and “force-on-force” exercises.

At least three Albuquerque police officers who taught “nuclear security focused courses” at the facility “have shot multiple people while working at APD,” according to KRQE.

Grisham brought her concerns about the matter to Moniz, who wrote back to her last week that he had since “asked the Department of Justice, and they have agreed, to perform an assessment of the courses taught at the NTC to determine whether any of the courses are inappropriate for local law enforcement officers.”

The Justice Department is currently overseeing reforms in APD following last year’s report.

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