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Feds Launch Full Investigation of APD

Scrutiny centers on civil rights violations and excessive use of force

It’s an announcement some community members have been waiting a long time to hear.

After a preliminary inquiry was initiated last year, Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, says his office has collected enough evidence to initiate an investigation into whether the Albuquerque Police Department perpetrates a pattern of federal law violations.

“In particular, the investigation will focus on the use of force by APD, including but not limited to, the use of deadly force,” Perez said. The investigation will move as quickly as possible, he added, and his office’s chief priorities are to be fair, independent and thorough. “We will peel the onion to its core and leave no stone unturned. We will follow the facts wherever the facts lead us,” he said.

Jewel Hall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Council, welcomed news of the investigation. “Areas that I hope they’ll also look at are diversity, the administration and the culture of the department,” Hall said.

Perez praised both Mayor Richard Berry and Chief of Police Ray Schultz for cooperating transparently with the preliminary review. Berry and Schultz emphasized they’ll continue to collaborate openly with federal investigators.

They also tried to put a positive spin on the announcement, saying they welcome any opportunity to improve the accountability and responsivity of APD. Berry said Albuquerque isn’t the only city with a police department subject to formal DOJ scrutiny.

“There have been 14 cities around the country that have gone through this recently,” he said. “I think policing is changing, and ... I’m proud of our police department. They’ve done a wonderful job at driving crime rates down. But if there’s things we need to fix, we’re not going to shy away.”

Berry said that more than 60 reforms the police department proactively enacted in the past year to training, policies and procedures have already made a difference.

He also defended his 2011 veto of a City Council request for the DOJ to investigate civil rights violations claims against the police department, saying he’d had concerns the legislation violated the Open Meetings Act.

“There are individual officers that are bad actors,” Schultz conceded, but added that rank-and-file officers themselves have been instrumental in indentifying areas for improvement. He said that he’s been aggressive about seeking out nationwide best practices to put into place here.

“I came back to this organization because I was confident knowing what the department’s capable of and what I can do for the city,” said Schultz, responding to a question about whether he’s still the right man for the job. “I could easily turn and run away. I’ve done 30 years. I’ve got my time in. But no, this to me is a challenge—to bring the department to the highest level possible.

Perez said his office is seeking feedback and information from community members about APD conduct. Citizens can email the DOJ investigative team at community.albuquerque@usdoj.gov or call a toll-free voicemail box in English or Spanish at (855) 544-5134.

Public Comments (12)
  • IT'S ABOUT TIME  [ Wed Nov 28 2012 8:50 AM ]

    jeez. how many dudes gotta die before the feds notice? isn't the number of people shot the same as the one in NYC?

  • Justice or Revenge?  [ Wed Nov 28 2012 11:49 AM ]

    NYPD just shot more people accidentally (9!) in one shooting than APD has on purpose all year this year or last year(6 last year, 6 so far this year)!

    In 2010 APD shot 14 people. Since APD’s 10 year average is 8 shootings a year, a 75% increase, nearly double normal, indicated there was a problem.

    The problem could be with APD, the community it serves, or both. Some wanted the problem identified and fixed, some wanted heads on a pike. Some thought APD could fix the problem, some thought only the DOJ could do that.

    APD instituted more than 60 policy and procedure changes. APD did before a DOJ investigation what the DOJ has ordered others to do after.

    APD and the community it serves wanted fewer shootings, and there have been fewer shootings. In 2011 there were six shootings, less than half as many as 2010, a decrease of 57% from the previous year, and a decrease of 25% from the 10 year average. So far in 2012 there have been 6 shootings, another large decrease from 2010 and the average.

    If a pattern or practice of police misconduct was responsible for the spike in shootings in 2010, what was responsible for the significant drop two years in a row?

    APD isn’t perfect, no department is, but they are definitely moving in the right direction. Fewer shootings is a good start, but they still need help in other areas. They have a way to go, and they may need more outside help getting there.

    The people who wanted justice, the problem identified and fixed, seem to have already got what they wanted. The people who wanted revenge are still waiting for heads to roll. I’m sure the latter will eventually get what they want. The DOJ did not come to town to congratulate APD on doing their job for them.


    Last edited [11/28/12 12:03 PM]
  • DOJ: Slow and Curious  [ Thu Nov 29 2012 1:20 AM ]

    Let's hope they do a better job here than they did in Arizona w the ATF's Fast and Furious.

    APD has done a good job reducing the number of shootings on their own, but they still need help. The way some beatings and Taserings were overlooked until the video went public, as well as the way Mary Han's murder and crime scene were handled indicate the APD leadership and/or culture need an attitude adjustment, a shove out the door, or some time in the slammer.


    Last edited [11/29/12 1:21 AM]
  • So you like it or you don't?  [ Thu Nov 29 2012 9:17 AM ]

    You're just saying things.

  • Don't (heart) Criminals  [ Thu Nov 29 2012 10:41 PM ]

    I've read the published blotter reports that I can, as a citizen. Looks like a publicity stunt to me. DOJ guy on Demand looked like he was a smirker. Was Obama elected and loan-guaranteed as a special prosecution by feds to stroke lulac (LULAC, if you couldn"t figure it out.) to spank our Police Dept.. .

    The feds won't get any cooperation out of me if they ask. The local Cops are my team-mates. I'm a citizen and we are in this together against criminal activity. LULAC is not my friend, nor are they friends of most Hispanics. Most of us are victims, somehow - name it

    Regards

    Mike

  • That's crazy  [ Fri Nov 30 2012 10:14 AM ]

    considering how many people they've killed. Whatever. Stand with the police. Just don't have a spoon in your hand when you do it.

  • team-mates  [ Fri Nov 30 2012 11:46 AM ]

    The feds won't get any cooperation out of me if they ask. The local Cops are my team-mates. I'm a citizen and we are in this together against criminal activity.

    I think the whole point of the investigation is to determine who is really a team-mate and who is working for the other team (the very team whose activity you mention). That, and finding out why, as is often the case within large organizations, the first group of people is either unaware of the second group, or powerless to do anything about them.

    BTW, I have a hunch that if this investigation makes Schultz squirm, then you just might see smirks on your own team-mates' faces.

  • Ray wasn't squirming on the tv !  [ Sat Dec 1 2012 10:41 PM ]

    Sloppy

    er... Nostradamas, thanks for the prediction re: smirks. I was referencing a smartass- looking guy pictured, blowing into our little cowtown from DC to straighten us out.

    If you don't consider law-enforcement, city government, local judiciary and private-business as your "partners" in this city, then you are perhaps an iconoclast unable to fit in.

    This DOJ investigation is still a stunt. Our City has a significant, NO, serious drug problem; mostly heroin now. Addicts are frantic and mobile. That's the nature of heroin and meth, BTW. Name one confrontation with APD that didn't involve amped-up users or bi-polars whose condition is related to drug-use. I'm hopeful that APD and the other agencies will continue to protect innocent and weaker folks that addicts will prey on.

    Regards

    Mike


    Last edited [12/1/12 10:42 PM]
  • Unfortunately,​ evil exists  [ Sun Dec 2 2012 9:45 PM ]

    davisi

    You are probably a very kind and compassionate guy. You are probably young and able to still see the goodness in everybody. You probably consider Law Enforcement as your enemy, given your post.

    Unfortunately, evil exists. That's why our society has to employ a Police Force. They do the dirty work that I, and perhaps YOU can't do. I can't confront rabid criminals. If you can, please join the Police Force and change their policies, if you think you must.

    Regards

    Mike

  • EVIL does not exist  [ Mon Dec 3 2012 8:42 PM ]

    People do things that we judge to be evil.

    And shooting people that are not rabid criminals in the name of Protecting and Serving is evil.

    But that does not mean that the police are evil. It means that our society is a framework that places policepeople in untenable situations. They are required to commit acts, the widely-varying consequences of which are occasionally - and retroactively - judged as evil.

    I would recommend more humanity, but it's not reliably profitable.

  • every time they arrest a felon, or shoot 'em...  [ Tue Dec 4 2012 9:55 PM ]

    PB

    They DID shoot "rabid criminals". They didn't shoot lambs in a meadow. Most were on drugs or armed and willing. Albuquerque is a crime-filled and violent city. It isn't a respectful city either. I have to wear a tie to work. Male drivers mad-dog me all the time and goad a confrontation. Walking around being a white guy isn't a picnic either. I wouldn't want the job at APD. But every time they arrest a felon (or shoot him), it means we may be free of another crime committed upon ourselves...right?

    Regards

    Mike

  • Moving on...  [ Thu Dec 6 2012 2:56 PM ]

    APD isn't perfect; no PD is. PD's aren't perfect cuzz cops aren't, and cops aren't cuzz people aren't, and cops are people.

    They've made mistakes. Some are understandable, but too many were avoidable and/or preventable.

    They've come a long way in the last two years, they have a way to go, and the DOJ can help them get there.

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