April 29, 2016

False statements by city, ABQ on police reform

Andy Lyman

Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry with Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden and others. Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

Top city officials said that the Department of Justice told them that APD could not look at other departments for model policies to reform the troubled department.

The only problem with that serious allegation? It’s not true, at least not according to the U.S. Attorney.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez wrote in a letter to Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry and City Council President Dan Lewis that he was “perplexed” at the allegations, made by both APD’s Assistant Chief and the Albuquerque City Attorney.

In fact, Martinez said he has encouraged city leadership and police to look at other departments over how they implemented reforms.

APD has to make reforms after a damning DOJ report that found a history and pattern of unconstitutional policing, which included fatal shootings by officers and other usages of excessive force.

From the Journal:

Albuquerque police are rewriting about 30 policies as a result of a DOJ investigation that found Albuquerque police have a pattern of excessive force and a culture of aggression. The reforms aim to change the way Albuquerque police use force, investigate themselves, interact with the community and other aspects of policing.

To do that, Martinez said the DOJ has encouraged Albuquerque police to review policies from other departments and draw from what are considered to be the “best practices,” a term that was defined and included 15 times in a settlement agreement between DOJ and the city.

Lewis defended the city, and said “there’s no point in blaming anyone” for the false statements Robert Huntsman, the APD official, and Jessica Hernandez, the City Attorney, made to the city councilors.

Hernandez said, according to the Journal, that the city is now moving forward on proposed reforms.